Sadly, criminals are devising new ways to target individuals as their old tricks gain publicity. The Ministry of Justice has warned criminals are impersonating official Government numbers in their nefarious schemes.
In the scam, Britons can expect to receive a call from out of the blue, claiming to be from the Ministry of Justice or His Majesty’s Courts and Tribunal Service (HMCTS).
The call impersonates official Government or court staff, convincing the recipient they need to hand over money to avoid paying a larger fine or going to court.
The call may ask the person to ‘press one’ in order to speak with an advisor, but in doing so, the victim will find themselves directly connected to a scammer – not the Government, who has nothing to do with this communication.
These criminals often spoof real numbers, and then ask the person to check the Government website to verify the number they are calling from is real.
However, phone calls are not the only method scammers are using in this particular case.
Twitter user @eelemsti highlighted a text form of the scam, which reads: “HMCTS Enforcement: This is a reminder regarding your outstanding court fine for account number 23009129T div code 082.”
It then urges people to call two separate numbers – one if they wish to “pay in full” and another if they “received the text in error”.
This is another way scammers are seeking to target unsuspecting Britons, getting them on the phone to hand over personal details and banking information.
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The Government has released guidance to help people protect themselves from being targeted by such a scam.
Firstly, Britons should be aware the Ministry of Justice or HMCTS will never ask a person for their card details or to pay money to any account on a call made to, or from this number: 0203 334 3555.
Individuals should always take a moment to stop and think before parting with their money or personal details.
The Government states this is a key step to prevent a person from falling victim to fraud.
It is always okay to reject, refuse or ignore any requests, as a legitimate organisation will understand people wanting to check.
Similarly, only criminals will try to rush or panic a person, so this is a key sign a scam is taking place.
If a person receives a suspicious text message, they can report it free of charge by forwarding the message to 7726.
Suspicious calls can be reported to Action Fraud, and similarly, those who think they have handed over money can contact this national cybercrime reporting service for help.
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Those suspicious about a call they receive can also call 159 to check whether they are being targeted by scammers.
Call 159 is a service from Stop Scams, which explained: “This breaks the scam ‘journey’ at the critical moment when you are at most risk of being manipulated into making a payment.
“So, even if scammers can make contact with you, that link will be broken by your call to 159, before any information is shared, any payment is made, and any harm is done.
“If you think someone is trying to trick you into handing over money or personal details – stop.
“Hang up, and call 159 to speak directly to your bank.”
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