Following a crackdown by HMRC on email and SMS phishing, fraudsters are increasingly turning to the traditional method of cold-calling publicly available phone numbers to swindle their victims, and often these calls are to landline numbers.
According to Ofcom, nearly 26 million homes have a landline, many of which could be at risk from scams, especially if they are not ex-directory.
Phone scammers often target the elderly and vulnerable claiming to represent HMRC, given that such a call is the more likely to carry authority.
HMRC received more than 60,000 reports of phone scams in the six months to January 2019.
This is an increase of 360 per cent compared to the six months before this.
| Also in the news - a body found in woods near Arundel on Tuesday belongs to missing person Helen Slaughter, according to Sussex Police; Shoreham Airshow pilot Andy Hill has been found not guilty by a jury; and children across the area have been dressing up as their favourite literary characters to mark World Book Day |
Pauline Smith, head of Action Fraud, said: “Fraudsters will call your landline claiming to be from reputable organisations such as HMRC.
“Contact like this is designed to convince you to hand over valuable personal details or your money.
“Do not assume that anyone who calls you is who they say they are.
“If anyone calls and asks you to make a payment, log in to an online account or offers you a deal, be cautious and seek advice.”
HMRC will only ever call you asking for payment on a debt of which you are already aware, either having received a letter about it, or after you have told them that you owe tax, for example via a self-assessment return.
During the last 12 months, HMRC has worked with the phone networks and Ofcom to close nearly 450 lines being used by fraudsters.
If you are in any doubt as to whom you are speaking, HMRC advises that you end the call and contact it using one of the numbers or online services available from GOV.UK.
The Tarring Community Forum will meet on Tuesday at the West Tarring Baptist Church Centre in South Street, Tarring, at 7pm.
• Tim Drew is the secretary and press officer for the Worthing Neighbourhood Watch Association. For more information about the Worthing & Adur Neighbourhood Watch Associations click here.
• Benefit from an ongoing discount on your Herald by joining our voucher membership scheme. Once you’ve subscribed we’ll send you dated vouchers which can be exchanged for your paper at any news outlet. To save money on your Herald simply click here.