Criminals are targeting bank customers using a scheme from the USA that mimics bank phone numbers.
The crooks trick customers in to parting with their bank details over the phone so that they can con them out of thousands.
The ‘number spoofing’ technique uses a device that copies the desired telephone number and shows this on phone screens, lulling victims into a false sense of security.
The technology used to carry out the scam – sometimes used by call centres to make it seem that they are based in a specific place – can cost as little as £20.
The scammers ask for details including full name, address, date of birth and sometimes even online banking passwords and the last four digits of their debit card.
Using the information they can then hack into accounts and transfer the savings out.
Banking and internet fraud has increased by a third in one year and Experian figures reveal that there are around 12,740 cases each year. The average amount being snatched by criminals has increased from £695 to £884.
Phone watchdog Ofcom has joined forces with the USA and Canada to crack down on the scam. But it can be difficult to catch culprits who are based overseas.
A spokesman for Barclays, one of the banks involved, said: ‘Barclays will never ask a customer to reveal their passwords and pins when we make contact.
‘If you are suspicious of a caller or uncomfortable about their request, end the call. As fraudsters can keep the phone line open by not putting down the receiver at their end – phone someone you know and trust first to ensure the line is clear.
The con comes in the wake of similar schemes such as ´courier fraud´, which targets the elderly and encourages them to withdraw huge sums and hand it over to a “courier” in an attempt to combat theft from bank tellers.