Warning given to residents as scam returns

County Hall in Morpeth.
County Hall in Morpeth.

Residents are being reminded to be vigilant over phone scams in the county.

Northumberland County Council received a number of complaints in December where scammers were claiming to be from the authority, asking householders if they had been in an accident before trying to sell the idea of compensation.

However, the calls were an attempt to extract personal information, and ultimately money, with the scam making a return.

The council’s trading standards team is urging residents who receive calls like this to put down the phone.

Coun Dave Ledger, deputy leader, said: “These are really sneaky operators, attempting to gain people’s trust by showing concern for their welfare, and with a bogus story about being from the local authority.

“The county council would never cold call residents to try and obtain personal information.

“And like typical con artists, these people concentrate their scams on the most vulnerable and unsuspecting householders who they can pressurise more into giving away their details.

“Residents need to be extremely cautious if they receive a call like this.

“If you are ever in any doubt about the integrity of a caller, a genuine caller from the council would be happy to provide their contact details so you could call them back.”

To reduce the risks of falling for cold call scams, Public Protection has the following tips:

• Be wary of unsolicited calls suggesting or implying that you are due money

• Never provide your personal details or bank details

• Don’t take unsolicited calls when you are busy and can’t give the salesman 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

• And if you’re not clear about who you are speaking to, terminate the call.

If you receive one of these calls and would like further advice you can contact Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 0345 404 0506, or report any potential fraud to ‘Action Fraud’ at www.actionfraud.org.uk/report_fraud, or by calling 0300 123 2040.

Anyone contacted by someone claiming to be from the council can double check their identity by asking for their name and extension number and calling them back via the council’s switchboard on 0345 600 6400.