Scam callers switch tactics in Northumberland

Criminals trying to defraud Northumberland residents by phone have begun concocting new false stories, county trading standards chiefs have warned.

Friday, 26th August 2016, 2:09 pm
Updated Friday, 26th August 2016, 3:14 pm
Brought to you by the Northumberland Gazette.

Victims of attempted scams have reported that strangers pretend to be HMRC officials threatening to take them to court for so-called unpaid tax, while other con-artists claim they are council staff offering help with compensation after imaginary accidents.

Neither of the tactics are genuine calls and householders should hang up, without giving personal or financial details.

The alert comes weeks after an elderly woman in the North East was tricked into handing over bank account information by a caller who falsely said her home had been put in the incorrect council tax band - and that she was due a refund.

The latest swindlers struck in the Rothbury area as well as around Morpeth, Prudhoe, Cramlington, Netherton, Thropton and West Sleekburn.

David Sayer, county council business compliance and public safety manager, said: “We are receiving up to six complaints daily. Thankfully no-one has yet been tricked into paying anything. Callers can be very persuasive, even threatening, especially with vulnerable householders. If you are worried about any official-sounding call you receive, hang up and contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Service.”

Help can be given by the CA team on 0345 404 0506. Potential crime can be reported to Action Fraud or by calling 0300 123 2040.

Coun Liz Simpson, council deputy business head, said: “It is almost impossible to recover money stolen this way. Residents have to protect themselves and kill off the conversation.”

To confirm if a call from the council is genuine, residents should ask for the person’s council extension then check it out by ringing back via the main county switchboard on 0345 600 6400.