Grandmum warns of ‘savings’ scam

Moira James
Moira James

A GRANDMOTHER is warning people not to fall for a phone scam which could see them conned out of cash.

Moira James, from Seaton Carew, contacted the Hartlepool Mail to raise the alert after receiving a phone call from fraudsters offering her a “free” device that could save her money on her energy bills.

But alarm bells rang when the person on the other end of the line asked her for her bank details.

Mrs James, a 62-year-old former magistrate who used to work for Woolworths, said the call sounded like it had come from an Asian call centre.

She said the caller claimed that her energy provider had informed them she was a pensioner and they were going to send her a device that would save her 40 per cent off her electricity from the time she plugged it in.

She said: “I had to clarify my name and address, which I did.

“He then referred to me as Mrs James, but he could have got that out of a telephone book.

“Then he asked for my bank details.

“But I said ‘why do you need my bank details if you are going to send me something that’s free?’

“I was a bit shaken, so I put the phone down.”

The mother-of-two and grandmother-of-three added: “I rang British Gas, who I’m with and they said there’s no device they are aware of that will save 40 per cent.

“I want to want to warn others someone could have their bank account emptied with this scam.

“If this had been my late mother, she would have been thinking at 85 ‘I’m going to get 40 per cent off my bill’ and gladly give it.”

Ian Harrison, principal trading standards and licensing officer for Hartlepool Borough Council, said: “I am aware of similar scams involving British Gas that have been carried out over the internet but have not come across this particular complaint before.

“Our advice is to remain vigilant and not disclose any confidential information, including bank account details, to anyone who contacts you unexpectedly.

“If you are unsure about the authenticity of a caller, ask for their name and then call the company back on their main telephone number obtained from the Yellow Pages or other trusted source.”

Lucy Coyle, of British Gas, said: “When we contact our customers it is generally for a specific purpose.

“We do not ask customers to give us their credit card details as part of these calls.

“We are aware of this scam and if customers think they are being targeted, they should end the call.

“If in doubt do not give credit card details over the phone.

“If you think you were contacted please telephone British Gas and we will check our records to confirm whether we have been in touch.”

Anyone who is concerned that they may have been contacted as part of the scam can call the new Citizens’ Advice Consumer Service, formerly Consumer Direct, on 08454 040506.