You might have read in the papers or seen the news about the current TV Licensing scam. Having thought of myself as a sensible woman who would know better than to get trapped by something as odious as a scam, it came as a terrifying shock to realise that I, too, had very nearly handed over all my savings and current cash.
In brief, I responded to an email from TV Licensing saying that there was a problem with my payment. I could see nothing wrong with the email so clicked on the link provided and updated my bank details. At the time, I thought they were asking quite a lot of questions with regards my bank account, but the website and email gave no indication that I should question anything.
The following day I received a call purporting to be from my bank’s fraud department asking if I had spent some money at an Argos in Manchester, as they thought it might be suspicious. I replied that I had not and so the man said he feared my account had been compromised and had I recently supplied my bank details such as a TV Licensing email. Horror – yes I had! He then listed to me all my direct debits, which were correct, as he thought that maybe they had added some. We then looked at my accounts with me using my mobile phone to find that a large amount had moved from my savings account to my current account. Another horror! I was then told that in order to ‘protect my accounts’ they needed to move my money into a safe account, and he was going to give me the sort code and account number, but I had to name the account with a name I was familiar with. Fortunately, this rang several bells with me and I said that I would not do so but would go into the bank and sort it the following morning. He then said that he could not guarantee that the scammers would not have emptied my account overnight. I responded that as he had frozen my accounts that should not be possible and that I would not transfer my money into another account. The call ended abruptly.
Feeling very shaken, I looked up by bank’s fraud number on line, called them and found that they had not called me but money had moved between my accounts. The accounts were frozen and a new card and security details raised. Had I continued with the fake bank fraud department, the scammers would have moved all moneys from both my accounts into the new account I had set up and the bank would not have repaid me.
The lessons learnt are:
- Never click on a link in an email requesting your banking information. Go to the company’s website and check your account there.
- If someone calls you purporting to be the bank or police etc, say that you will call them back on another line. Some fraudsters stay on the line they called you and if you don’t change phone you think you are dialling a number when in fact they are always there.
- Never give out and enter on an account you have, any security details of your bank account such as mother’s maiden name or pin numbers.
- Check the email address the email has been sent – although in this instance the TV Licencing scam looked very convincing.
Action Fraud has received over 5,000 complaints in 3 months with nearly 2,000 in December alone. By comparison there were only 1,614 complaints during the previous 9 months, the majority being in September.