City residents warned over phone scammers

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West Midlands Police join forces with BT to tackle scam

SPECIALIST financial investigators from West Midlands Police are working closely with BT to target fraudsters following a series of phone scams reported in the region.

The scam begins as fraudsters contact their victim, warning them that their account is in arrears. They then ask for card or bank details in order to settle the account.

If the person refuses or questions the validity of the caller, the scammers offer proof by disconnecting the phone line, or threaten to do so. Once the victim puts the phone down, the scammers stay connected to their line, giving the impression the customer’s line no longer works.

After a few minutes have passed, they ring the unsuspecting victim back. Creating the desired effect, the caller is usually successful in convincing them to hand over their details.

In some cases, the damage is worsened when the fraudsters claim the payment couldn’t be processed and ask for other card details or further still, send a bogus caller to their home address to take the payment in person using a skimming device.

Officers from the Economic Crime Team are working closely with BT to put a stop to these phone scams and are committed to bringing the individuals responsible to justice.

This partnership which targets fraudsters has already seen positive results. Nine people have been arrested so far in operations across Birmingham, for fraud by false representation.

Acting Detective Chief Inspector Mark Salt heads the Economic Crime Team. He said: “Phone scams are a national problem but we are committed to tackling this type of offence in the West Midlands.

“I urge anyone who suspects they may have been a victim of fraud to contact their local police station immediately.”

West Midlands Police and BT advise customers not to give out any banking details over the phone unless they are absolutely certain who they are dealing with.

They also want to reassure the public that BT will not demand immediate payment, disconnect customers during a call or turn up unannounced at the home address under any circumstance.

If there is any doubt at all, a BT employee will be able to provide the customer their employee ID number and an 0800 number to call, where the customer can check that they are who they say they are. The customer can also check their identity by calling 0800 800 150.   

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