A SPIKE in cold callers targeting vulnerable residents in a bid to obtain bank details from broadband customers in Barnsley has led to a warning being issued by Action Fraud this week.

Scammers have claimed to be from an Ofcom call centre, who then tell recipients there is an outstanding bill or payment in connection to their phone or broadband package and their service will be disconnected unless the payment is made.

This particular scam, according to investigators looking into the rising cases locally, also involves recipients receiving a voicemail saying they have missed a call and encourage them to press a button to call back, which connects them to the scammers.

Victims are persuaded to ring the scammers’ phone line back to discuss the issue further, which connects them to a high-cost premium number, leaving them liable to an expensive bill.

An Action Fraud spokesman said: “Spam calls are sent to millions of recipients to try and gain personal information which can be used to commit fraud. Never give out your personal or financial details.

In Text Promo Image

“The scammers have pretended to be a range of different companies such as HMRC, Royal Mail, BT and high street banks.

“Organisation such as Action Fraud have urged people to be cautious about random calls pretending to be from Ofcom.”

Operation Signature has been rolled out by police across the town - focusing on protecting those deemed to be at high risk of fraud - which has seen each of Barnsley’s six neighbourhood policing teams tasked with advising vulnerable people about the potential pitfalls of fraud.

Andy Foster, protection officer for financial-related matters, admitted that fraudsters’ activity remains a ‘serious concern’ for officers in Barnsley.

“Fraud such as this happens when criminals telephone a potential victim, claiming to be from a trusted firm,” he added.

“We’re seeing hundreds of cases on a monthly basis across South Yorkshire - it’s no exagerration to say it’s an epidemic and it’s something forces struggle to prevent due to its nature.

“Money, once it’s gone, often goes from one place to another so it’s difficult to trace and hard to get back to the victim.

“I’ve seen in the past how shocking it can be and some people have lost their entire life savings as a result of being conned by a caller, including many elderly people.

“We believe many victims opt against reporting costly crime simply because they’re embarrassed and often do not even tell their families.

“I would advise anyone receiving unsolicited calls via their home phone to contact their telephone provider and ask them if they provide a free call-blocking service.”

* If you have received a hoax call, report it to Action Fraud on 03001 237040.