How to spot a police impersonation scam phone call

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Scam phone calls pretending to be from the police or other organisations you trust like your utilities company are becoming more common. The aim of these phone calls is usually to try and get your personal information or your bank details. The scammers will then try to encourage you to make a bank transfer into a bank account they have access to.

They can often sound and look very real, so here's how to spot one of these scams.

How to spot a police impersonation scam 👀

Police impersonation scammers often use scare tactics to get people to do what they ask. The scammers will try to build up trust by saying they're from a police force or another place of authority. Sometimes they'll tell you you'll be arrested if you don't go along with what they're asking you to do. Or they'll tell you that by doing what they say, you'll be helping them catch a criminal. Here's what these police impersonation scams could look like:

The scammers might ask you to help with a police investigation

These scams can often start with someone calling you up, pretending to be the police who are investigating someone at your bank. They'll sometimes ask you for help to catch the fraudster.

They might tell you that your account is at risk and that you need to move money of your account as soon as possible, so that they can 'catch the fraudster'. The scammers pretending to be the police might advise you to move your money into a safe account. They'll often tell you it's to protect your money. Don't do it! This is a scam.

The scammers might say you'll be arrested if you don't pay overdue taxes

Scammers pretending to be from the police might also tell you that you have overdue taxes to pay. They'll often say that they will arrest you immediately if you don't pay these taxes and provide the bank details of where to pay the money.

They'll often use scare tactics like threaten you with immediate arrest or by claiming they're going to cancel your passport right away.

The police will never:

  • Ask you to transfer money to a new account to help catch a fraudster at your bank, even if they tell you the account is in your name. If the people on the phone ask you to do this, it's a scam.

  • Phone you to ask for your card PIN or your online banking details, or any personal information. They'll also never ask you to send money anywhere, for any reason.

  • Send someone to your home to collect cash, your PIN, your bank card or your cheque book.

  • Ask you to buy anything on your card, and then hand it over to them for safe keeping.

  • Threaten you with arrest over the phone for failing to comply with any of the things they've asked you to do.

  • Call you to say they're going to arrest you because of overdue HMRC payments or anything similar.

  • Rush you into taking action. A genuine organisation, like the police, will always give you the time you might need to make a decision. The scammers might be rushing you to tell them your personal details or to make the bank transfer by repeatedly telling you your account is at risk. They also might say that you could lose all your money if you don't move it immediately.

What should you do if this happens to you

If you've received a call from someone claiming to be from the police asking you to move money, it is a scam. You should hang up immediately.

The police would never call you threatening to arrest you over the phone or to tell you they need your help to catch a fraudster. They'll never call you asking you to move money out of your bank account.

If you think you've been a victim of a scam, you should also report it to Action Fraud by either calling 0300 123 2040, or by using their online form.