At any time of year, but perhaps particularly at this time of year, unscrupulous people are plotting to separate you from some of your hard-earned. As has been widely reported, in Penny Post and elsewhere, this often takes the form of someone calling to report alleged unusual activity on your accounts and detailing the steps that you need to take to solve this. These usually involving parting with sensitive information which can then be used to access your account.
No one is immune from this. The following conversation took place between a fraudster (initially plausible until he started to lose his temper) and Philip Kinzett-Evans, the Tax Manager at Ross Brooke Chartered Accountants. It happened in October 2016 but it could as easily have been yesterday.
This is one of a number of blogs, articles and videos from Ross Brooke on a wide range of financially-related matters which can be found by clicking on this link.
Your own bank or building society will never call asking for you to supply sensitive information over the phone. If you are called, make a note of any numbers or other details they offer but do not reveal any information nor act upon any instructions you are given. Once the call is over, you might wish to contact your bank – preferably, as the post below mentions, using a different phone from the one you were called on as there are reports of calls being diverted – and report the incident to them. If this produces no other result, it will give you peace of mind that your account had not been compromised and that the picture the fraudster was trying to paint was entirely fabricated.
Now it’s over to Philip for the cautionary tale…
Fraud is a huge area of concern when I am looking after the firm’s clients: but little did I expect to find myself the target of an such attack, on a Sunday evening whilst I was sipping my Earl Grey and watching The Last Ship on Sky Atlantic.
A call came in on my mobile which went something along the lines of…
Fraudster: Hi, is that Philip Kinzett-Evans? I am calling from Santander fraud team regarding your accounts. We have noticed some suspicious activity on your account and would like to check some transactions. Did you make 2 payments to Argos of £500 each and then £200 to the same retailer?
Fraudster: We have tracked the transactions to abnormal IP addresses and want to block them. Can you please tell me without revealing your username and password, what accounts you have?
Me: Can YOU please tell ME what I accounts I have and which one you are calling about? You already have this information.
And I receive text messages if my account makes payments over a certain amount.
(At this point he got a little aggressive which I would never expect from my bank…)
Fraudster: Mr Kinzett-Evans, I am calling about all your accounts. Your text messages have been diverted as the fraudster has changed your mobile number on our records. I cannot do my job if you do not give me the information I am just trying to help you.
Me: I am not comfortable giving you the information you have asked for (and I was wondering how he was calling me if my number had been changed in their records).
Fraudster: If you look at your phone screen you will see the number 0845 9123 123 which is our number, I need to verify you so that I can block the transactions I have just told you about.
Me: Can you give me my postcode? [He gave my postcode].
Fraudster: I need to know which accounts you have and the balances. The figures on my screen will be different to yours so if you login and let me know the amounts then I can make sure they are reset to the same as ours.
Me: I’LL CALL BACK!” (And I ended the call).
He tried to call me back five times whilst I was calling Santander and I kept diverting him to voicemail. No message was left which is not something the bank would do.
At that point I called Santander to let them know and they confirmed my accounts are secure. I called on my mobile but dialled the number rather than pressing redial to the number that had just come through. (As I understand it, it is not possible for your mobile phone call to be held up when you end the call – but if this had come through on my home phone then I would have called using a different line, as the caller can prevent you from hanging up your call).
Santander confirmed my records are correct and more importantly that they had not tried to call me.
I did not give him any information and so will remain safe. I have, nonetheless, altered my login details in case anything is amiss.
Actually I feel I wasted my time. If the “fraud team” or indeed anyone who purports to be official and you weren’t expecting a call then call them back in your own time. In my case it would have saved a pointless discussion with a potential fraudster.
Below is a link to scams of all kinds including the one I have been subjected to, but escaped: