THE NSW Police Force Fraud and Cybercrime Squad is warning members of the public to be aware of cold calling scams, in particular 'long-held' call scams, after a number of recent reports.
Cold calling scams involve a phone call from a person claiming to be a representative from a business - such as a retail store, a telecommunications company or a financial institution - who seek to verify personal details, obtain banking details or gain access to your online accounts.
They include 'long-held' call scams whereby criminals cold call a potential victim on a landline telephone then stay on the line and pick up further calls that person makes.
Commander of the Fraud and Cybercrime Squad, Detective Superintendent Arthur Katsogiannis, said people falling victim to this scam often thought they were calling direct to their financial institution or, in some cases, the police.
"The scammers will call the victim, tell them they are from a business where a person has attempted to use their credit card fraudulently, and advise they should call their bank immediately to cancel the card," Det Supt Katsogiannis said.
"When the victim hangs up believing that the call has been terminated, the scammers stay on the line at their end keeping the call active.
"The victim then calls their bank but is instead talking to the scammers who will ask questions to obtain account details, passwords and personal information to allow them access to the victim's accounts.
"In some cases, victims have been convinced to transfer their money to another nominated account for safe keeping by scammers purporting to be from the police."
Detective Superintendent Katsogiannis said victims had lost more than half a million dollars to the scam, with those funds believed to have gone overseas.
Investigations by police are continuing.
Police urge members of the public to take the following precautions to reduce the risk of being scammed by cold callers:
• Never provide your personal or banking details to a person who cold calls you;
• Be careful what personal information you provide over the phone, even if you are the person who made the call;
• Never provide your financial PIN or account passwords over the phone;
• If you have been cold called on a landline, consider making any further calls on a different phone or check that the line is free by calling someone you know first;
• If you are suspicious about the credentials of a person on the phone, ask questions - what's their street address, telephone number, Australian Financial Services Number - if they avoid answering then it could be a scam;
• Never transfer funds to a person or an account you do not know.
To find out more information about scams, to report a scam or to find out other ways to protect yourself, visit www.scamwatch.gov.au
If you have been the victim of a scam, you can also report it to your local police station.