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How do you know a caller is who they claim to be?

Last modified: 10 June 2020 at 01:58pm

North Yorkshire Police Financial Abuse Safeguarding Officer, Andy Fox, gives an update on one of the latest emerging scams.

You are at home and receive a phone call on your landline or mobile. The caller display on your phone shows a number which purports to be the bank. The number displayed is the same number on your bank statement or bank card. You are therefore satisfied that it is the bank calling you, or is it?

Number spoofing is a method by which fraudsters using easily accessible software can make any number they dial from appear on the recipient’s phone as any number they chose. This could be your bank, building society or even the police. This will then convince the intended victim that they are indeed speaking to their bank when in fact they are talking to fraudsters.

Such examples of spoofed calls we’ve had reported are individuals claiming to be from the victim’s bank informing them their account has been compromised and they need to transfer funds, or a call claiming to be from the Police or HMRC informing the victim there is an outstanding tax bill and a warrant has been issued for that person’s arrest. Often these type of calls can be used to gain personal information such as account logon details, PIN numbers and passwords.

It is important that you are aware of this type of fraud and there are some simple steps you can take to protect yourself:

  • Don’t assume just because the number displayed looks like your bank or other official organisation, that it is the organisation calling you. If you have any doubt whatsoever terminate the call and using another phone, call the organisation in question. For example if your ‘bank’ contacts you on your mobile and you are suspicious, terminate the call, and using the phone number on your statement or Customer Services number listed on the bank’s website, call them bank on your landline. Fraudsters will often tell you to call your bank to check the call is genuine but will not clear the line. Therefore when you call your bank you are in fact still speaking to the fraudsters.


  • Ask the caller for their name and a way to verify they are an employee of the place they are calling from. For instance a first name and a staff ID, or a first and surname. Any employee of a legitimate company will be willing to provide these details, if the caller refuses or becomes confrontational be very suspicious. It is very easy for fraudsters to fake a contact telephone number, it is very unlikely they will have accurate staff names and details.


  • If the caller claims to be from the police, ask for the officer’s ‘collar number’ and then call the police back using a different phone. If the caller is genuine they will not mind you checking their identity.
  • Remember:
    • Your bank will NEVER ask you to move money to a safe account.
    • Your bank will NEVER tell you about staff members who are under suspicion of investigation of fraud.
    • The police will NEVER ask you to pay a fine over the phone
  • If the caller is asking you to pay a fine, transfer money or verify personal information – STOP and terminate the call. This is most definitely a fraud and needs to be reported to the police on 101.
  • Purchase a call blocking device or a new phone with a built in call blocking device. Alternatively contact your phone provider to discuss what call blocking services they offer

Remember, trust your instincts. If you ever feel worried that a call, email or text is not from the person it claims to be from then delete it or terminate the call immediately and call the police on 101.

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