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Comment - Fraudsters Impersonating Tesco in New Phone Scam

March 2021 by Nikolay Gaubitch, Director of Research EMEA at Pindrop

It has come to light that Police in Wales have issued a warning to residents about a new phone scam, in which fraudsters are impersonating supermarket giant Tesco. Victims have reported receiving an automated call telling them that an order with Tesco has been placed and that £350 will be debited from their account. The automated message goes on to say “if this is not the right amount, please press 1 to go through to our fraud team.”

The commentary from Nikolay Gaubitch, Director of Research EMEA at Pindrop.

“The type of scam we’ve seen this week with Tesco is not a new one, nor is it uncommon, but as consumers are spending more time on the phone their safeguards have been lowered and they’re likely to be more susceptible to such a trick. Our own research has shown that the pandemic has caused an overwhelming increase in calls going to the call centre, and not only are consumers being put off by being on hold but so are the fraudsters. In 2019 we saw that 1 in 770 calls to the call centre were fraudulent, while in 2020 that number decreased to 1 in 1074 calls.

Whilst the number of fraud attempts appears to have decreased, it’s actually more a case of the fraudsters adapting their strategies, with the increased use of automated services, (IVR) and through direct contact with the consumer, and this Tesco scam could definitely be an example of that.

What’s interesting in this type of phone scam, its aim is not to trick the consumer into handing over money immediately, rather it’s a technique to gather personal information, which can then be used for carrying out financial fraud through your bank for example. Previously we’ve seen fraudsters carry out similar attacks where the fraudster is on the phone with a customer and their bank simultaneously to ensure they’re getting all of the information they need in real-time.

While contact centres should ensure they have fraud protection in place, it’s even more important for consumers to be alert. Two pieces of advice: 1) always verify who you are speaking to, especially if they call you, and 2) if still in doubt, don’t give away any personal information or payment details and instead, hang up, and call the company’s customer services team on their official contact number"

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