Council warning after surge in phone scam reports

Residents in Northumberland have been told to be on their guard after a surge in reports of phone scams.

Northumberland County Council’s Trading Standards team recently issued a warning about bogus Council Tax calls.

And now it is receiving information about two new possible types of scam calls.

Both involve callers claiming to be ringing on behalf of the council who try to get the resident to provide personal details.

In one the caller also asks the person about having an accident in the past year or two and goes on to talk about making a compensation claim, and in the other they claim to be carrying out a survey for the council and ask if the person has a satellite dish.

In the cases reported, the complainants have followed advice issued by the council and terminated the call so the full extent of the scam is unclear.

People need to be extremely cautious if they receive one of these calls, and if they are in any doubt, should not provide any personal details and end the call.

Philip Soderquest, Northumberland County Council Head of Public Protection

Council Head of Public Protection Philip Soderquest said: “Residents need to be vigilant about these unscrupulous activities and it is pleasing that previous advice has been followed.

“The council would not under any circumstances ‘cold call’ residents and try to obtain personal information.

“These individuals will try multiple methods to deceive people, but they will particularly look for vulnerable or unsuspecting residents.

“People need to be extremely cautious if they receive one of these calls, and if they are in any doubt, should not provide any personal details and end the call.”

He added: “These scammers can be very persistent and can be very rude to residents if they don’t get what they want. These people have no morals.”

The following advice has been issued to reduce the risks of falling for scams.

• Be wary of unsolicited callers suggesting that you are due money.

• Never provide your personal details or bank details.

• Do not take unsolicited calls when you are busy and can’t give the caller your full attention. If you want to talk, ask them to call back at a convenient time.

• Don’t agree to something on the phone just to get rid of a persistent caller.

• If you are unsure who you are speaking to terminate the call.

Further information is available from Citizens’ Advice Consumer Service on 0345 404 0506.

Suspicious calls should be reported to Action Fraud at www.actionfraud.org.uk/report_fraud or by calling 0300 123 2040.

Anyone who is contacted by someone claiming to be from the council should ask their name and extension number, then call the authority on 0845 600 6400 to speak to them.