The National Trading Standards e-crime Team is concerned about the possibility of fraud after a recent upsurge in call recording services, which people are using to provide proof of phone conversations with banking staff in the event of disputes.
People dial a number they have found online, which has been allocated to their bank or other organisation they wish to contact. They are then put through to their bank to make the call in the normal way. However, the call is recorded and stored by a third party call recording service.
The call is likely to contain confidential information, such as security questions, which, together with the details of the call itself, could be accessed by unauthorised people to commit fraud, identity theft or impersonation. It is also possible the service could be fraudulent. If genuine, its data protection procedures could be substandard, despite such companies claiming to be strictly regulated by Ofcom.
Call recording companies pay search engines such as Google to appear high in their listing, especially when searched from a mobile phone or tablet. This leads many consumers to believe the contact number displayed is their bank or other organisation, which it is not. Typically, the number begins with 083 or 084.
Mike Andrews, National Coordinator of the National Standards eCrime Team, which is based in York and North Yorkshire, said: “We are worried that many smartphone users are unwittingly giving away their banking details to third parties after searching for bank phone numbers online. A number of websites have sprung up where confidential calls made by consumers to their banks are recorded and stored, often containing sensitive personal, financial and security information. In fact, if you use a mobile phone to search the internet for your bank’s number, you may trigger an ad, which when clicked offers to dial your bank for you and records the whole conversation.
“If you are trying to contact your bank on the move you should dial the telephone number displayed on the back of your debit card, or use the number provided on your bank’s website or mobile banking app.”
North Yorkshire County Councillor Chris Metcalfe, Executive Member for Trading Standards, said: “When you’re in a hurry, it’s easy to take what looks like the bank number you’re looking for at face value, but it’s worth taking the time to ensure you’re contacting your bank directly rather than take the risk of revealing sensitive information by going through a third party.”
- The content of your recorded call could contain confidential information (for example, security questions) which could potentially be used to commit crimes including fraud, identity theft and/or impersonation.
- Your call could cost considerably more via the call recording service than it would to contact the organisation directly.
- You may think you are calling the organisation directly because the number appears high up in search engine results.
- The recording of your call may take up to 30 days for you to access – a long time if you are trying to recall the conversation or settle a dispute.
- The recording of your call may not be available at all.
- You could be using an unregulated service.
How to avoid the problem
- Do not assume that an organisation’s contact phone number you find from a search engine is the correct one, even if you are in a hurry to get through.
- Always contact your bank or other organisation via the number on their website or correspondence you know to be authentic. You will also find your bank’s number on the back of your bank card.
- If you are using a mobile phone, you can easily get your bank’s phone number from your bank’s mobile banking app.
For media enquiries, interview requests or more information please contact the National Trading Standards press office on 020 7025 7570 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to Editors
National Trading Standards
National Trading Standards provides leadership influence, support and resources to help combat consumer and business detriment locally, regionally and nationally. It was set up by the Government in 2012 as part of changes to the consumer protection landscape and an enhanced role for trading standards
For more information please visit www.nationaltradingstandards.uk
National Trading Standards eCrime Team
Funded by National Trading Standards, the National Trading Standards eCrime Team recognises that a secure and safe online environment that protects consumers and allows businesses to flourish is vital to the long term success of the UK economy.
The eCrime Team provides a national resource to support all local authority areas in England and Wales, tackling the increasing threat to businesses and consumers in relation to internet scams and rip-offs. There are separate arrangements in place in Scotland.