Police warn Hemel Hempstead residents to be vigilant of National Insurance scam
Residents have been contacted by the fraudsters claiming to be HMRC
Hertfordshire Police is warning residents to be vigilant after receiving reports of scam phone calls, text messages and emails received about unpaid National Insurance contributions.
Residents have been contacted by the fraudsters claiming to be Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) over the last few days.
The victims were told there were outstanding National Insurance debts or unpaid taxes in their names and the fraudsters asked the victims to make bank transfers as payment.
Numerous members of the public also reported receiving missed calls from Hertfordshire Constabulary phone numbers, as well as emails about National Insurance, containing police contact numbers.
The fraudsters cold call victims using a spoofed number that appears to be a genuine Hertfordshire Constabulary phone number, sometimes leaving voicemail messages claiming that they owe payments.
The victims are asked to call back on the number provided, through which they are told that there is a warrant out in their name and if they do not pay, the police will arrest them.
The victims are also sometimes contacted via text messages asking them to urgently call the number provided, or via emails which contain bogus links.
Detective Chief Inspector Sam Khanna, from Hertfordshire Constabulary’s Serious Fraud and Cyber Unit, said: “These fraudsters tend to target elderly and vulnerable people and use the threat of arrest to frighten them into making bank transfers or using other methods to pay bogus debts or fines.
“It’s important to remember that government officials and police officers will NEVER contact you in these ways or ask you to buy gift cards, vouchers, withdraw money, purchase goods or hand over private banking details.
“Please help us to raise awareness by talking about this with your friends and family, especially if they are vulnerable or elderly.”
How to protect yourself:
> HMRC will never use texts to tell you about a tax rebate or penalty or ever ask for payment in this way
> Telephone numbers and text messages can easily be spoofed. You should never trust the number you see on your telephone display.
> If you receive a suspicious cold call, end it immediately
> If you receive a suspicious email, never click on the link contained within
> Retain any details and report to Action Fraud unless the fraud is in progress, in which case dial 999
Hertfordshire Police offers the following advice on recognising fraud:
> Be sceptical of callers, even those who claim to be officials
> Don’t be afraid to put the phone down with a brief ‘No, thank you’
> NEVER give personal information, such as your date of birth or bank details, to unexpected callers
> Remember that the police or your bank would NEVER unexpectedly call you and ask you to withdraw cash or move your money to another account, as a result of fraud or any other reason.
> If callers suggest you call your local police or bank to check who they are, use another phone or ensure the line has been fully disconnected by phoning a friend or relative first, or by waiting at least five minutes, otherwise you may think you’ve phoned a number, but you’re simply talking to the fraudsters again. This is a common fraudsters’ tactic.
> If a caller asks you to type your bank PIN number into your telephone handset - do not do this, as fraudsters can use technology to identify the numbers.
> You can opt out of many cold calls by registering for free with the Telephone Preference Service on 0845 070 0707.
If you believe that you are a victim of this scam please contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 to report, using a different phone to that used to communicate with the fraudsters. If a fraud is in progress or someone’s life is in danger, call 999 immediately.
Visit www.actionfraud.police.uk or www.herts.police.uk/protectyourmoney for advice on avoiding scams.