BBC Radio 4’s consumer programme You and Yours has warned of a new type of scam in which fraudsters pretend to be your child or grandchild who, having lost their phone and therefore calling from a new number, need urgent financial help as they claim they cannot access their internet banking on the ‘new phone’.
A listener who had this experience, having been convinced that the message came from her daughter, sent over £2600 of her own money to settle some ‘urgent bills’ for her, and didn’t realise she had been scammed until the next day, when she checked with her daughter’s husband whether the money had been received.
In this instance, the scam was perpetrated via WhatsApp, but such messages could arrive via email, text, Facebook etc, so be alert and don’t ever assume an unexpected message is genuine. Any request for money or personal details should ring instant alarm bells!
If you have been scammed, report this to your bank immediately; as well as to ActionFraud and to your local police.
Finally: before acting on any ‘urgent request’, listen to your instincts, cross-check over known phone numbers with the people concerned, and/or discuss the issue with a trusted friend or relation.