Police have issued a warning about a telephone scam which has been used to target hundreds of people across the country.
There were almost 500 reports made to Action Fraud last year about the fraud, which involves cold-callers who pretend to be from a well-known UK telecommunication service provider.
READ: Motorcyclist badly hurt after crash with bus
In many cases, the victims targeted through this particular scam were elderly people.
How does the scam work?
The criminals call victims claiming to provide a ‘Telephone Preference Service’ – an enhanced call-barring service, which includes barring international call centres.
They ask victims to confirm or provide their bank account details, informing them that there is a one-off charge for the service.
Victims instead see monthly debits deducted from their accounts, which they have not authorised.
In all instances, direct debits are set up without following proper procedure.
The victim is not sent written confirmation of the direct debit instruction, which is supposed to be sent within three days.
On occasions when victims attempted to call back, the telephone number provided by the fraudster could not be reached or the victim’s direct debit cancellation request was refused.
READ: Death of teenager found in street not suspicious
How to protect yourself
There is only one Telephone Preference Service (TPS). The TPS is the only official UK ‘do-not-call’ register for opting out of live telesales calls. It is free to sign-up to the register. TPS never charge for registration. You can register for this service here.
You will receive postal confirmation of genuine direct debits. If you notice unauthorised payments leaving your account, you should contact your bank promptly.
Always be wary of providing personal information, or confirming that personal information the caller already claims to hold is correct. Always be certain that you know who you talking to. If in doubt hang up immediately.
If you have been affected by this, or any other type of fraud, report it to Action Fraud by visiting the website or by calling 0300 123 2040. In an emergency, dial 999.
If you have any information regarding those responsible for such crimes, Crimestoppers can be contacted anonymously on 0800 555 111.
More advice on how to protect yourself and your family from fraudsters can be found by visiting northyorkshire.police.uk/fraud or following the Take Five North Yorkshire hashtag (#TFNY) on Facebook and Twitter.
Also in crime: Hermes email scam that could track everything you type into your computer