Vulnerable elderly residents are being targeted by cold calling phone scammers, Dorset police have warned.
Dorset Police and Bournemouth Borough Council have urged residents to be vigilant after numerous reports of the scam taking place in Bournemouth.
This comes after nine alleged phone scammers appeared in court in mid-November on suspicion of similar offences.
The scam, which originated in London and has since moved to the Dorset area, involves residents being ‘cold called‘ by criminals.
The scammers impersonate bank employees or police officers in an attempt to steal the person’s credit card pin numbers or cash, claiming that residents have fallen victim to credit card fraud.
The offenders ask residents to call their bank, while the scammers are still on the phone and recording their details.
Bournemouth Borough Council Safety Manager, Andy Williams, urged: “The police or your bank would never ask for this information.”
In the UK in 2014, ‘vishing’ scams cost consumers £24 million, over three times the amount lost in 2013.
In Bournemouth alone, seven percent of those targeted by the cold callers have fallen victim to the scam by losing money.
Financial Fraud Action UK commented that the country’s ‘vishing’ problem has “got out of hand”.
Bournemouth Borough Council council has revealed that locally, over £800,000 has been lost to this scam so far.
The council has recently released advice to Bournemouth residents, particularly the elderly to be wary, expressing concern that in some cases the criminals have “met the victim” to exchange the money.
As well as this, they also report that 70% of the people affected by this scam are aged 70 and above.
Detective Inspector Mark Samuel, of Bournemouth CID, reacted to this by saying: “Be vigilant. These are callous offenders, targeting the most vulnerable members of our community.”
Mr. Williams said: “Older people are targeted by this scam as they are less savvy with online and telephone banking”.
Judith Livingstone, information and advice manager at AgeUK Bournemouth, said: “We work closely with the Police in Safer Neighbourhood teams and groups such as the North Bournemouth Crime Prevention Panel to alert vulnerable older people of known or potential scams.”
The British Bankers Association’s ‘Know Fraud, No Fraud’ campaign have released eight ‘things your bank will never say to you’ tips in order to prevent this from happening.
One of their tips is that banks will never call or email asking to disclose passwords or other confidential information.
The campaign also urges the public to stop sending money to fraudsters if they feel they have become victims.
If a member of the public has been successfully targeted, the BBA encourage them to report it as soon as possible to prevent future scams.
Dorset Police are urging anyone effected by the ‘vishing’ scam to call the Police on 101, or the ActionFraud team on 0300 123 2040.