Beware Christmas scammers

Consumers are being warned to beware of a new sophisticated scam in the run-up to Christmas.

Specifically targeting Lloyds customers, the new scam is ingenious and looks very plausible.

Letter

The target receives an apparently genuine letter from Lloyds customer services, signed by Jamie Smith – a customer relations manager. It informs the receiver of ‘unusual transactions’ on their personal current account and asks them to call a telephone number ‘to confirm the transactions are genuine.’

Top financial journalist, Amelia Murray, says the next step makes the scam even more convincing as the telephone number apparently connects them to a Lloyds automated service.

Message

Says Amelia: “A welcome message is played and then the caller is asked to enter their credit card number or account number and sort code followed by their date of birth.  Customers are then instructed to enter the first and last digit of their security number.

“At this point the automated voice says “sorry, I’ve been unable to match the digits” and asks for the third and fifth number of the security code.

On hold

“Customers are then put on hold to await ‘an advisor’ and asked if they are happy to give customer feedback in a two-minute questionnaire. The caller is then asked to type in their phone number to be called back.

“Reported calls have been with a man with a Liverpool accent and a Scottish woman, claiming to be in a Lloyds call centre, but no information other than confirmation of account number and sort code is requested,” she added.

Friday afternoon fraud

The letters demonstrate a knowledge of the banking industry and are deliberately timed to arrive on a Friday which gives the scammers the weekend to drain customers’ accounts when bank staff levels are low.

Industry expert Cliff Moyce says the Lloyds letter scam was ‘just one of many thousands of schemes operating currently.’

He said they were ‘brilliant in their simplicity and psychological insight because consumers are aware of being targeted online, but letters are less common.’

Protection

A Lloyds spokesman said the bank works hard to “minimise the occurrence of fraud and maximise the protection of customers”.

He advised customers who receive any letter giving them ‘cause for concern’ to call the customers services number printed on the back of their bank card.