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Watch out for the “Caller ID” scam

7th March 2014

Ofcom are warning about 'number spoofing scams', which are spreading across the UK where fraudsters deliberately change telephone numbers to match legitimate organisations.

Ofcom say the feature – known as “Caller ID”– is a way of screening the calls you want to answer from the ones you don’t on landlines. However, there have been growing instances of nuisance callers and fraudsters deliberately changing the Caller ID, a practice known as ‘spoofing’.

How the scam works

Ofcom say that sometimes there’s a good reason for a caller to modify the Caller ID (for example, a caller who wishes to leave a 0800 number for you to call back if you want).

However, with spoofing fraudsters deliberately change the telephone number to match that of a legitimate organisation. They then pose as bank, credit card company or government department and ask for personal information.

If the victim becomes suspicious the fraudsters ask you to look at the caller ID, to prove they are legitimate. They then encourage the victim to check the caller ID number against the one on their bank card/statement - and when it matches some will be reassured enough to give personal information over the phone. 

Protect yourself

Ofcom is warning people not to believe the scam. They say if anyone asks for your personal details you should assume that you are being scammed, and hang up.

If in doubt you should wait for at least five minutes and call back using the number on your statement, phone book, or on the official website and ensure the phone line is not left open. If you don’t and the criminal keeps the line open at their end, when you make the call, you are unknowingly connected straight back to the fraudster. Calling on your mobile phone will prevent this from happening. 

Ofcom is working with the international regulators – as well as the telecoms industry – to find solutions to this problem.

For further information and to apply please visit the Ofcom website.

Please note that Action Fraud is not responsible for the content of external websites.

To report a fraud and receive a police crime reference number, call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or use our online fraud reporting tool.

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