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Alert issued Warning as scammers target public claiming to be from Paypal, Revenue and National Crime Agency

The automated message then asks the person to press one and to wait on hold before they’re put through to an "operator."

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A generic stock photo of a woman using a mobile phone in central London.

A generic stock photo of a woman using a mobile phone in central London.

A generic stock photo of a woman using a mobile phone in central London.

The PSNI have issued an alert after members of the public were contacted by fraudsters in a National Insurance phone scam.

People have been contacted via telephone in recent days by criminals who tell their potential victims that their National Insurance number has been used for fraud or other criminal purposes.

The automated message then asks the person to press one and to wait on hold before they’re put through to an "operator."

When they are connected, the person on the other end of the line tells the potential victim that they are from the National Crime Agency and asks for the target’s bank details.

The police say that so far all of those who have reported the scam have got wise to it and haven't forwarded their financial details, however they’re concerned that others may fall into the racketeers' trap.

The police have also received reports of fraudsters who are claiming to be from PayPal and Revenue and Customs.

Again, the criminals eventually revert to asking their intended targets for personal bank details.

Issuing advice to help the public avoid falling into the trap of scammers, Chief Superintendent Simon Walls of the PSNI said: “If you get a similar call please put the phone down and report the call via our 101 system. Do not provide any personal details to the caller.

“Fraudsters will stop at nothing in an attempt to dupe people because of the variety of scams employed, including on the phone, or via email and to the more sophisticated scams where people become victims of romance or investment scams.

“No matter what type of scam it is and the different methods employed, a common element shared by scammers is they will go to great lengths to trick people and take advantage of their vulnerability and good faith and these latest reports show this, having pretended to be a police officer.”

He added: “Our message is simple – never disclose your personal or banking details to anyone over the phone or online, no matter how convincing they may seem, and never allow an unauthorised person to have access to such details.

“Guarding your personal and banking details is essential. Never disclose them to any unauthorised person or allow anyone access to them via your computer.

“If you have received a call of this kind or are concerned by the intent of unsolicited calls, emails or letters then please report it to Action Fraud via their website www.actionfraud.police.uk or by phoning 0300 123 2040, or call police on the non-emergency number 101.”

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