Fraudsters are coming up with inventive ways of scamming the elderly and vulnerable using technology, police are warning.
Tens of Herts victims have been targeted over the last year by criminals making phone calls claiming to be police officers or banking staff, in an effort to obtain either cash or bank account details.
But officers have revealed that in recent weeks a new kind of phone scam has been emerging, with people receiving calls from fraudsters claiming to work for the Telephone Preference Service (TPS).
Victims of the scam are told by the caller that their contract with the TPS is about to expire and needs to renewed, for which they are asked to pay.
In real life, the TPS provides a free call screening service and will never contact you to request payment or ask for bank details.
Other scams currently being reported in the county include scammers claiming to be from a computer or technology company, such as Microsoft or Virgin Media.
The caller explains that there is a problem with the victim’s computer, for example that it has a virus. They then either go on to say they can fix the problem for a fee, or they persuade the victim to grant them remote access to their computer, putting them at risk of data theft or virus planting.
PPI claim cons are also being reported, with scammers charging hefty rates despite the fact that claiming for mis-sold PPI is a free process.
Insp Paul Lawrence from the Crime Prevention Unit said: “We’ve been able to alert people across the county to various phone scams that have been operating, but the criminals are developing their methods all the time. This latest version of the scam has the same goal as other scams, trying to obtain money from their victims.
“If you are suspicious of a call then please end the call immediately and contact police via the non-emergency number 101. It is important that when reporting a suspicious phone call to police, you wait at least five minutes before attempting to make the call or use a mobile or neighbour’s phone to ensure you’re not reconnected to the offender.”
If you receive a call from someone claiming to be from the TPS or similar service, asking for payment, terminate the call immediately and call the Herts Police non-emergency number 101.
Hertfordshire Constabulary produces a regular Fraud Prevention Update which is circulated by email to more than 70,000 Neighbourhood Watch member households in Hertfordshire. To join Neighbourhood Watch in Hertfordshire, visit www.OWL.co.uk or email our Watch Liaison Team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more scam information and advice, visit www.herts.police.uk/PhoneScams.