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Surge in National Insurance scam reports

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Brits have been urged to be on their guard following a sharp increase in reports of a National Insurance scam.

The fraud reporting service Action Fraud has issued a warning about the scam, after it received a whopping 34,000 more calls about the scam in February when compared to the same month a year ago.

How does the scam work?

According to Action Fraud, potential victims of the scam receive an automated telephone call, which warns them that their National Insurance number has been “compromised”.

In order to fix the issue and get a new number, the recipient is told to press one on their handset and they will then be connected to “the caller”.

Should they do this, they then speak directly to one of the fraudsters behind the scheme. At this point, they are pressured into providing their personal details in order to receive a new National Insurance number.

In reality the scammer simply wants those details so that they can commit identity fraud, taking out financial products in the victim’s name.

Pauline Smith, head of Action Fraud, called on the public to remain vigilant and to be cautious when receiving any automated calls supposedly about their National Insurance number.

She continued: “It’s important to remember if you’re contacted out the blue by someone asking for your personal or financial details, this could be a scam.

“Even confirming personal details, such as your email address, date of birth or mother’s maiden name, can be used by criminals to commit fraud. If you have any doubts about what is being asked of you, hang up the phone. No legitimate organisation will rush or pressure you.”

Scammers are cashing in

The last 12 months have apparently been a bumper time for scammers, with Barclaycard suggesting that 2020 was the worst year ever for scams.

The sheer variety of scams being employed has helped the criminals make hay, ranging from impersonation schemes where scammers pose as organisations like the Royal Mail to more complex investment scams where people are tricked into wasting their money on fake or overpriced assets.

It has led to consumer champion Which? warning that online scammers are ‘running riot’. 

Three steps to protect yourself

Action Fraud has highlighted some simple steps to follow in order to reduce the chances of falling victim to scams like this, whether they come through a phone call, email or text message.

The first is simply to stop and take your time. Before you take any action, step back and gather your thoughts so that you don’t feel rushed into doing something.

Next, challenge what you are being told. Is it really legitimate? As Action Fraud puts it, it’s ok to “reject, refuse or ignore any requests” as only criminals will try to rush or panic you.

Finally, if you think you have been duped and provided your details to a fraudster, it’s important to act quickly by contacting your bank, building society or credit card firm and report it to Action Fraud.

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