Northumbria Police is warning residents about a nationwide courier fraud scam.
Crooks are telephoning households posing as police or bank workers informing them about serious problems with their bank accounts.
During the conversation, they try duping the caller into withdrawing large sums of money or convincing them to hand over their payment card details. The caller later arranges for a bogus courier to visit the property to collect the money.
The police are advising anyone who receives such a call to hang up immediately and report it to 101.
If any residents have already made arrangements for a courier to visit their property, they need to contact police urgently.
Officers are urging people to be on their guard and to take steps to avoid becoming a victim:
* Be aware that fraudsters often use techniques to hold your phone line open, so that when you try to dial out to verify the caller, they intercept and re-answer the call, claiming to be the bank or law enforcement.
* To ensure that your phone has not been compromised, we recommend using a different phone line to verify the caller. Where a second phone line is not available, try calling a family or friend on the line first, as the fraudster will find it difficult to impersonate a voice that is known to you.
* Never disclose your PIN or online/telephone banking log-in information or card reader codes to anyone, even if the caller claims to be from the bank or police. Remember, banks NEVER call and ask you to disclose these security details.
* If you receive a call requesting your PIN, card details or online/telephone banking log-in information, end the call immediately.
* If you receive a suspicious or unexpected call, always verify the caller by taking their phone number and getting it checked independently.
* Ensure elderly relatives and neighbours are aware of the fraud and crime prevention advice.