A quick-thinking Hitchin pensioner foiled phone scammers who targeted her – and now wants to raise awareness for others.

Dolores O’Grady, 85, wants to warn fellow pensioners and others who may be in a vulnerable situation to be aware of telephone fraudsters who demand banking details from the old and frail.

Mrs O’Grady, originally from County Kavan in Ireland, had just returned to her home in Manor Crescent after a cruise in the Mediterranean when she took a call from a man pretending to be able to prevent cold calling to her number.

She told the Comet: “A man with an Indian accent called me to tell me he could stop cold calls to my house.

“I’d just got back from a lovely cruise with my daughter and was off my guard for a minute.

“The man said: ‘I need you to confirm the expiry date on your bank card.’

“Well, I read it out to him. He then asked for the long number across my card.

“I started to give it to him as he was tremendously reassuring – but then I just thought: ‘What am I doing giving my bank card details to a complete stranger?’ and I immediately put the phone down.”

A police spokesman said: “If you’re not happy with a suspicious phone call 101.”

Unexpected calls are a favourite tactic of scammers and fraudsters – and they don’t just claim to prevent cold calling.

The police have confirmed while some scammers claim to be from government departments, such as immigration or the tax office, while others actually claim to be police officers and bank officials.

If you feel a call is not genuine do not be afraid to put the telephone down. If you are unsure a caller is genuine take their name and contact details and seek advice from a person you know and trust.

Dolores added: “I used to be a geriatric nurse and I’ve seen a lot of people who could fall victims to this type of fraud.

“To be defrauded is such a shock, and not everyone is as strong as me. Something like this could literally kill a person from shock or a broken heart.”