Northumberland County Council’s public protection service is urging consumers to be on their guard following an increasing number of complaints relating to scam telephone calls.
The Trading Standards team is aware of three recent scams that claim to be offering refunds. In the first, the caller tells the consumer they have overpaid their council tax or been placed in the wrong council-tax band, therefore they are due a refund. In the second, the company claims the consumer has overpaid a bank and they will deliver a refund by cheque, for a 10 per cent charge, and in the third the consumer is told they are due a refund for PPI claims and payment for releasing the cheque must be made by Ukash vouchers.
To reduce the risks of falling for cold-call scams, public protection has the following tips:
* Be wary of unsolicited callers suggesting or implying that you are due money.
* Never provide your personal details or bank details.
* Don’t take unsolicited calls when you are busy and can’t give the salesman your full attention – if you want to talk, ask them to call back at a convenient time.
* Don’t agree to something on the phone just to get rid of a persistent caller.
* If you’re not clear about who you are speaking to, terminate the call.
Phil Soderquest, head of public protection, said: “Please be vigilant. These are unscrupulous scams being carried out in the hope of deceiving vulnerable or unsuspecting residents.
“Be extremely wary if you receive one of these calls and if you are in any doubt, don’t provide any personal details and end the call. If you think you may have been a victim of a scam then notify your bank or building society immediately.”
Coun Dave Ledger, policy board member for public protection, said: “Unfortunately scammers can be very persuasive and can con anyone into believing that they are legitimate so always remember to be on your guard when passing on your details to a third party.
“The people who do this are without any morals and the council would never contact a resident in this manner to issue a refund.”
Anyone who receives one of these calls and would like further advice can contact Citizens Advice on 0345 4040506.
Anyone contacted by someone claiming to be from the council and is unsure, ask them for their name and extension and then call the council on 0845 600 6400 to speak to them.
Do not ring a direct line number if you are unsure of who you are dealing with; the council’s contact centre will immediately know if the number given is genuine.