Number spoofing scam: What you can do to protect yourself

02 September 2021

Community

Jonathan Smith

Fraud is an ongoing problem here in the UK. In 2020, it totalled around £1.26 billion, of which around 16% of cases were through remote banking scams (UK Finance). As a result, it’s more important than ever that you take the right steps to protect yourself and your money, and we’re here to keep you informed.

In recent weeks, UK businesses, including banks, are seeing a rise in “number spoofing” scams, which see fraudsters clone a number in an attempt to trick people into moving their money over the phone. We want you to be as informed as possible about this issue, so we’ve put together this blog post that follows Action Fraud’s Take Five campaign advice.

What is number spoofing?

Number spoofing is a scam where fraudsters deliberately imitate a trusted number in an attempt to trick customers. This can involve the call ID of the line being changed to match the target company, the entire number being copied, or even both together. The criminal will typically imitate the company they’re impersonating on the line.

What can I do to avoid number spoofing?

We recommend that you follow Action Fraud’s Take Five action plan, which consists of three essential steps: Stop, Challenge, and Protect.

1. Stop to think: Are you dealing with a scam?

Start by familiarising yourself with the concept of number spoofing. Fraudsters will be looking to impersonate your bank (or other organisations involved with your finances) to get you to reveal personal or security information, or they could even attempt to convince you to carry out a transaction. These fraudsters will likely call out of the blue, often using the pretence that fraud has been detected on your account.

If you are in any way suspicious, you should exercise caution over the phone — be sure to stop and think about whether you’re dealing with a fraudster.

2. Challenge: Reject, refuse, or ignore requests if you’re suspicious

Never assume that someone is who they say they are just because their number ID matches that of an organisation you know. You should be suspicious if the caller wants you to tell them any bank details (such as your pin number or passwords), if you are asked to transfer or withdraw money, or if they want you to give your card to a courier. Your bank or the police will never ask you to do these things over the phone.

If you’re suspicious about the caller, you should reject, refuse, or ignore any requests that they make. Even if it is your bank making a genuine call, they won’t take it to heart and would prefer you exercise caution.

3. Protect: Take the right steps to protect your finances

If you receive a suspicious call or think you’ve fallen for a scam, get in contact with your bank as soon as possible to make them aware. You should also report the incident to ActionFraud or call them on 0300 123 2040 (Monday to Friday, 8am–8pm).

Want more advice? Read our previous blog post on preventing fraud and have a look at ActionFraud, Friends Against Scams and Get Safe Online, which are helpful resources. Additionally, you can find out more about our app security, should you wish.