Angus Council are urging locals to be on their guard following reports of bogus calls from people claiming to be health professionals.
The local authority and their partners on the Angus Adult Protection Committee, including NHS Tayside and Police Scotland, are concerned that bogus callers requested personal details and even whether the householder was home alone.
NHS physiotherapists contacted Trading Standards as soon as they heard their patients had been phoned by people claiming to be ‘from physiotherapy’ and who wanted to arrange home visits.
Angus Council’s Social Work and Health Convener, Councillor Glennis Middleton, said: “We know of two such calls to residents in the Arbroath area within the last fortnight or so. The callers even asked if the householder would have someone present at the time of the suggested appointment, which clearly causes concern.
“I would urge people not to give out personal information to someone calling them from out of the blue – no matter who they claim to represent. Don’t get caught out. Instead of giving your personal information, ask for their details and check them out with who they claim to represent. If you remain suspicious, contact the authorities.”
Those receiving the calls are vulnerable people who are receptive to the idea that they might receive a call from a physiotherapy department to arrange an appointment. Fortunately, in these cases, they alerted NHS staff who in turn reported the incidents to Trading Standards.
Morag Hambleton, NHS Tayside’s Physiotherapy Service Manager for Angus, commented: “If anyone gets a call out of the blue from someone claiming to be a health professional, they should not organise an appointment but ask for the name of the person calling, where they are calling from and a number to call them back.
“If they are in any doubt, patients can always check with the local health service to see if the call was from our staff. NHS physiotherapy or occupational therapy staff will always have an ID badge and will have called ahead to make an appointment indicating their name and where they are calling from.
“For example, ‘I am Morag and I am calling from the physiotherapy team at Arbroath Infirmary. I am phoning to make an appointment with you following your GP getting in touch to refer you.’
“After we have visited, we always leave appointment cards for patients with our contacts details on them.”
Police Scotland advises people not to give out personal information to strangers on the telephone. They tell householders to be very suspicious of any unsolicited calls they receive seeking their personal circumstances, medical history or financial accounts.
Chief Inspector Gordon Milne, Angus Area Commander for Police Scotland, said: “Don’t give out any personal details, including your name, age and address, unless you are the one who made the call and you are certain of the identity of the person you are speaking to.
“Don’t give out information which may infer that you live alone, are older or vulnerable and consider making your phone number ex-directory.
“If you are suspicious of anyone who attends at your door unexpectedly offering work, goods or services do not let them into your property, ask for identification and if you have any concerns about fraudulent activity contact Police Scotland on 101. In an emergency call 999.”
Suspected scams can also be reported to our ACCESSLine on 03542 777 778.
More information on community safety, including scams and doorstep crime can be found on the Angus Council website.