Horsham District Council issues warning after hoax calls

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Residents in the Horsham District are advised to be extra careful when sharing personal information such as bank account details with organisations.

There have been a couple of incidents reported to Horsham District Council this week of residents receiving telephone calls from individuals claiming to be employees of either Horsham District Council or the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

The individuals have suggested that the residents may be entitled to a council tax refund or other benefit credit and that the residents’ bank account details are required to make the payment.

The council will never ask for bank account details over the telephone and asks all residents to be mindful of these bogus callers.

Horsham District Council cabinet Member for communication, special projects and Horsham Town Helena Croft, said: “Sadly today there are an ever increasing number of unscrupulous people willing to exploit the public.

“Identity fraud and theft of personal information is on the increase, so I would encourage all our residents to think carefully before sharing any personal banking or other financial details over the phone.

“Extra vigilance in these frugal times is definitely something I would advise.”

The council is recommending that residents follow the tips below from Action Fraud and remain vigilant in order to protect against potential identity fraud and theft:

1. Do not give out any personal information (name, address, bank details, email or phone number) to organisations or people before verifying their credentials

2. Do not click on links in ‘phishing’ emails that pretend to be from the bank

3. Destroy and preferably shred receipts with card details on

4. Sign up to Verified by Visa or MasterCard Secure Code when given the option while shopping online to add an additional layer of security to online transactions with signed up retailers

5. If residents receive bills, invoices or receipts for things they haven’t bought or from financial institutions they don’t normally deal with or contact them about outstanding debts, take action, identities may have been stolen

6. Be extremely wary of post, phone calls or emails offering business deals out of the blue. If an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is. Always question it

For further guidance check the Support and Prevention section of the Action Fraud website: www.actionfraud.police.uk or call 0300 123 2040 to speak with a specialist fraud advisor.

For general guidance on protecting personal information visit the Information Commissioner’s website www.ico.gov.uk

The consumer advice service for West Sussex residents and businesses is provided by Citizens Advice Consumer Service, formerly Consumer Direct.

For advice on the purchase of goods and services or to complain about a business, speak to a trained adviser at Citizens Advice Consumer Service by calling 0845 404 0506.