People are being told of the top six most likely phone scams to target South West residents this year amid warnings that cases are on the rise.
Not all unwanted calls are scams. Nuisance calls, such as PPI claims or car insurance call centres, are made by legitimate companies.
It is important to know the difference between a nuisance call and a scam call, and it is not always easy to distinguish between the two.
UK call blocking device makers, CPR Call Blocker, have listed the most active scams doing the rounds in the West Country to make sure people are prepared and on their guard.
People are more accessible by phone than ever before.
THE SIX MOST ACTIVE SCAMS TO BE AWARE OF IN THE SOUTH WEST:
1) POLICE SCAM
This is when you receive a call from someone claiming to be a police officer or detective who tries to get you to withdraw money and hand it over to an investigator.
They usually give a fake crime number and investigation details. They could also try to persuade you not to trust bank staff.
There have been some cases where people are asked to call 999 or 101 to verify the call is genuine, however this should not be trusted as the scammer will keep the line open. This means you are actually talking to them when you think you are talking to an official 999 or 101 operator.
2) AMAZON PRIME SCAM
This is when you get a call from someone claiming to be from Amazon Prime saying you've been charged for an annual subscription.
You could be told that fraudsters have hacked your account to authorise payment. They usually encourage you to press 1 on the phone and then give access to your bank account in order to undo the hack.
Officials are stressing that Amazon Prime would never ask you to do this.
3) BANK SCAM
This is when someone calls claiming to be from your bank saying there is a problem with your card or account. They usually ask for your account, card and PIN details. They could also advise you to transfer money to a 'safe' account to protect it.
People are being advised that there are no cases in which a bank would ask you to do this.
4) HMRC SCAM
This is where you get a call from someone claiming to be from HMRC. They usually say there is an issue with your tax refund or an unpaid tax bill. A message could be left for you asking to call them back.
HMRC would never contact a customer in this way. A customer's personal information or bank details will never be asked for over the phone.
5) COMPENSATION SCAM
This is when you receive a call telling you that you are due compensation for a vehicle or work accident. Scammers might ask you to provide personal details and/or to pay an admin fee in order to proceed with claiming what you're owed.
6) COMPUTER REPAIR SCAM
This is an old scan but commonly used today.
It is when someone claims to be from an established IT firm, for example 'Microsoft', and they tell you that your computer has a virus.
You might be asked to download 'anti-virus software' which you might have to pay a fee for. This software is actually spyware which scammers use to get your personal details.
An IT company would never contact customers in this way.
Whilst scams are becoming increasingly deceptive and hard to spot, people are being reminded that companies will never ask you to give personal information or bank details over the phone. If someone is asking you to do this, they are likely to be a scammer.
We want to make people in The South West aware that scammers are becoming more inventive and if something sounds too good to be true or out of the ordinary, it could well be a scam.
How else can you protect yourself against scams?
Never reveal personal details over the phone.
Do not give out personal or financial information, such as your bank details or PIN, even if the caller claims to be from your bank.
If you feel harassed or intimidated, hang up straight away.
Ring the organisation after the call and alert them to what has happened.
If you are unsure if it is a scam or not, hang up and ring the company they claim to be from. Make sure you find the number yourself and don't use one provided by the caller. It could be part of the scam.
Don't be rushed into doing anything. Scammers usually try and rush you into providing personal details by saying you are under a time pressure. Do not listen to this. They could say your bank account is at risk if you don't give them the information they need as soon as possible. They could also say they have a time-limited offer. If you feel you are being rushed, hang up straight away.
is the average amount lost to scam calls according to a 2017 Bristol Citizens Advice report.
Anyone who thinks they might have given out personal details by mistake or have fallen victim to scammers is urged to contact their bank or card provider as soon as possible.
It is also advised to check bank and card statements regularly to ensure there aren't any suspicious payments.
If in doubt, people are advised to never give personal details, pay for anything or download anything by someone who you suspect might be a scammer, even if they sound convincing.