Elderly in Hitchin targeted in spate of ‘HMRC’ scam phone calls

Officers have warned the public to be wary of scam phone calls. File photo. Picture: Archant

Officers have warned the public to be wary of scam phone calls. File photo. Picture: Archant - Credit: Archant

Scammers pretending to be from HM Revenue and Customs have been targeting older members of the community in Hitchin, and police have today urged vigilance.

Since the Hitchin safer neighbourhood team sent out an OWL message to subscribers on Friday, it has received a further eight reports relating to this scam – which police say appears to be aimed at older people in particular.

Members of the public have reported receiving both phone calls and answerphone messages from someone claiming to work for HMRC, who says there has been a complaint about that person’s tax and that a warrant has been issued for their arrest.

The caller then gives a phone number for the victim to dial so money can be immediately paid to avoid further action.

Hitchin safer neighbourhood team PCSO Stuart Stone said: “I would like to reassure everyone that this is an example of a scam phone call and we will not be attending your address to arrest you. They seem to be targeting elderly residents, but we want everyone to be on their guard.

“If you have received a phone call of this nature or similar, please report this.

“I would also like to remind everyone to not disclose any bank or personal details over the phone. Genuine police or bank staff would never ask you to withdraw or transfer cash from your account, nor would they ever ask for your four digit bank PIN number.

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“Never tell anyone this number – it is for you to use in cash machines and shops only.”

If you’ve received a phone call like this, report it to police on 101, or Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or actionfraud.police.uk.

Herts police have issued the following advice on unexpected phone calls.

The police and banks would:

• NEVER ask for your bank account details or PIN number over the phone, so do not disclose these to anyone, no matter who they claim to be.

• NEVER ask you to withdraw money and send it to them via a courier, taxi or by any other means.

• NEVER ask you to send your bank cards, or any other personal property, to them via courier, taxi or by any other means.

• NEVER ask you to transfer money from one account to another over the telephone.

If you are not happy with a phone call and are suspicious of the conversation you have with the caller then please end the call and contact police via the non-emergency number, 101.

Remember, when reporting a suspicious phone call to police, wait at least five minutes before attempting to make the call or use a mobile or neighbour’s phone to ensure you’re not reconnected to the offender.

Did you know?

Phones are now available that automatically block withheld numbers, which are often used by offenders. People’s service providers may also be able to assist with blocking unwanted calls.

For further information about phone scams and how to avoid becoming a victim, see herts.police.uk/PhoneScams.