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Avoiding Courier Fraud

Wednesday, May 29th, 2024

Data released by Action Fraud puts losses to Courier Fraud in England and Wales at more than £28.7m in the 12 months to end-March 2024. The average loss per victim was £20,032. Beyond the significant financial losses, this is a crime type which can result in significant psychological harm, often to vulnerable victims.

Pensioners are urged to be especially vigilant, as people in their 80s account for 43% of all victims. Of reports made, 63% of victims were female and 37% were male.

What is Courier Fraud?

examples of courier fraud from Action Fraud

In a typical example of courier fraud, a fraudster may contact a potential victim by telephone, posing as a police officer or bank official. Their aim is to con the victim into revealing their PIN and credit or debit card details.

To begin with, the caller might be able to confirm some easily obtainable basic details about the victim such as their full name and address. The caller may also offer a telephone number for the victim to telephone, or ask the victim to call the number on the back of their bank card to check that they are genuine. In these circumstances, either the number offered will not be genuine or, where a genuine number is suggested, the fraudster will stay on the line and pass the victim to a different individual.

After establishing some trust, the fraudster will then, for example, suggest;

  • Some money has been removed from a victim’s bank account and staff at their local bank branch are responsible.
  • Fraudulent activity is suspected on the victim’s bank account.
  • Suspects have already been arrested but the “police” need money for evidence.
  • A business such as a jewellers or currency exchange is operating fraudulently and they require assistance to help secure evidence.

Victims are then asked to co-operate in an investigation by attending their bank and withdrawing money, withdrawing foreign currency from an exchange or purchasing an expensive item to hand over to a courier for examination who will also be a fraudster.

At the time of handover, unsuspecting victims are promised the money they’ve handed over or spent will be reimbursed but in reality there is no further contact and the money is never seen again.

Keeping safe from Courier Fraud

  • Your bank or the police will never call you to ask you to verify your personal details or PIN by phone or offer to pick up your card by courier. Hang up if you get a call like this.
  • If you need to call your bank back to check, wait five minutes; fraudsters may stay on the line after you hang up. Lack of a dial tone is a warning sign. Alternatively, use a different line altogether to call your bank. A call to 159 will put you through to your bank’s genuine customer service line.
  • Your debit or credit card is yours – in no circumstances hand it over to a stranger. An offer to have somebody pick up the card for you to save you the trouble of having to go to your bank or local police station can only be fraudulent. You should only ever have to hand your card over at your bank. If it’s cancelled, you should destroy it yourself.
  • We encourage family members, carers and friends to be vigilant on behalf of elderly residents. Installation of a call blocker can filter unwanted scam and nuisance calls to a landline.

Report Courier Fraud

Please report instances of Courier Fraud to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or online.

If you have given your bank details over the phone or handed your card to a courier, call your bank straight away to cancel the card.

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