The latest fraud alert comes courtesy of the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, NFIB. The organization has warned phone owners to watch out for incoming calls from cell phones that are very similar to their own. Usually the first seven digits of the number match your own mobile phone number.
Given that UK numbers are only 11 digits in length, this is quite a noticeable resemblance.
These calls usually imitate well-known government organizations such as HMRC or DVLA, as well as law enforcement agencies. Callers are prompted to press “1” to speak to an advisor or police department. To convince those who are a little unsure of the cold calling, the NFIB says that the pre-recorded message usually tells recipients that they need to speak to an advisor about an unpaid fine, police warrant, or something similarly intimidating.
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In May 2021 alone, Action Fraud received reports of around 2,110 fraudulent calls where the caller ID matched the first seven digits of the victim’s own number. Of these, 1,426 (68 percent) related to HMRC or National Insurance.
And it’s not just phone calls that you should keep a close eye on. A number of victims said they received a similar scam through messaging platforms such as WhatsApp. As with the phone calls, the text message relates to money owed to HMRC, a police arrest warrant, or issues with your social security payments.
Fortunately, Action Fraud – the UK’s national fraud and cybercrime reporting office – has received tips to keep you safe.
- First of all, always remember that the UK government and law enforcement agencies will never phone or text you to inform you of any unpaid fines or pending police warrants. Do not respond to calls or texts you receive regarding this.
- Always take a moment to pause and think before parting with money or your personal information. This could prevent you from falling victim to fraud. Remember, it’s okay to decline, decline, or ignore requests. Only criminals will try to rush you or panic you. Legitimate organizations let you call them back on their official phone number, which you can find on Google or in store.
- If you receive a suspicious text message, you can report it by forwarding the message to 7726. It’s free. In the meantime, suspicious phone / cell phone calls can be reported through the Action Fraud website: actionfraud.police.uk/report-phishing. This will help save others from the same scam