Scam warning: Six things police and banks will NEVER ask you for online
With scams becoming ever more sophisticating and convincing, protecting yourself from fraud can be a tricky business.
From unsolicited phone calls, to online scams and SMS messages, it's easy to fall victim to fraudsters trying to steal your personal or financial details.
A growing problem
A number of incidents of courier fraud were reported across Yorkshire earlier this year, in which unsolicited callers targeted victims - often the elderly or vulnerable - claiming to be calling from police fraud squads in a bid to steal their money.
Speaking of the problem, Detective Inspector Jon Hodgeon, head of North Yorkshire Police's Major Fraud and Economic Crime Unit advises: "People may pretend to be from your bank, the police, a utility company, a government department or someone else you usually deal with and trust, but never just assume someone is who they say they are.
"Be confident and refuse unusual requests for personal or financial information; it's okay to stop the discussion if you don't feel in control of it.
"If you need to call the police or your bank to check, wait five minutes and call someone you trust to make sure the phone line is free, or use a different line altogether.
"And always stop and think before acting.
"Contact someone you know, such as a relative, friend or neighbour, for a second opinion before handing over any money or details to anyone - even if someone tells you they are genuine."
What to look out for
Typically in courier fraud, victims will receive a call on their mobile or landline by someone claiming to be from their bank of the police.
The caller states their systems have spotted a fraudulent payment on their card, or it is due to expire and needs to be replaced.
Callers might also suggest that their victims hang up the phone and redial the number of their bank or police force to reassure the victim they are genuine, but they don't disconnect the call from the landline.
As such, when the victim dials the real phone number, they are still speaking to the same fraudster who continues to deceive the victim.
Victims will be asked to read out their credit or debit card PIN, or enter the details into their phone keypad, and they may also be asked for details of other accounts held within the bank or elsewhere to steal more information.
They might also persuade the victim to withdraw cash to "aid the investigation" and make them lie to their bank about their reasons for withdrawing it.
The caller will then promise to send a police officer or courier to the victim to collect their bank card or money.
By this point, the fraudster will have acquired the victim's name, address, full bank details, card and PIN number, or the cash that has been innocently handed over to them.
Fraudsters may also withdraw more cash using the card, or use the stolen information to commit identity fraud in the victim's name.
Staying safe from fraud
If you receive a call of this nature, it is important to hang up the phone immediately and avoid giving any personal information.
In an effort to protect people from courier fraud, police advise remember these six simple facts to help spot fraudulent activity:
1. The police or your bank will never phone and ask you for your PIN or full banking password, even by tapping them into your phone keypad.
2. The police or your bank will never ask you to withdraw money to hand over to them for safe-keeping or to aid an investigation.
3. The police or your bank will never ask you to transfer money to a safe account for fraud or investigation reasons, even if they say it is in your name.
4. The police or your bank will never send someone to your home to collect cash, PIN, cards or cheque books if you are a victim of fraud.
5. The police or your bank will never ask you to purchase goods using your card and then hand them over for safe-keeping.
6. The police or your bank will never ask you to lie to your bank about why you are withdrawing or transferring money.
7. If you are a victim of fraud and the crime is in action, or if you are in danger, always dial 999.
In a non-emergency, report it to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040, or visit visiting actionfraud.police.uk.
If you have any information regarding those responsible for fraudulent crimes, contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or visit crimestoppers-uk.org.