Fraud probe launched at South Shields call centre over unauthorised credit card payments

A police probe has been launched into an alleged fraud at a South Tyneside call centre.

The BT centre in South Shields.
The BT centre in South Shields.

BT has confirmed it has suspended an employee at its offices in South Shields after concerns were raised by one of its customers about unauthorised payments being made using his credit card details.

Karl Nelson, who lives in Lincolnshire, was alerted to what his bank, Barclays, called “fraudulent transactions” on his account.

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The alleged fraud was committed after a phone transaction

The first happened within hours of him contacting the call centre in South Shields, where he had handed over details in order to renew his broadband and to pay his annual line rental.

Over the next few days, Mr Nelson says more payments were made using his card details, totalling just under £100.

This amount could have been higher if other attempted payments had not been declined.

The 60-year-old says he contacted BT on a number of occasions to raise concerns and an investigation was launched.

Police have also been notified.

A BT spokesperson said: “Following allegations of fraudulent activity against a BT employee at our Harton Quay contact centre, we have been working with Northumbria Police to support their ongoing investigation.

“The employee concerned remains suspended.

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“BT takes the security of our customers’ information extremely seriously.”

A Northumbria Police spokesman said: “We are currently investigating a report of fraud by abuse of position which is alleged to have taken place between January 24 and 27.

“Inquiries into this incident are ongoing.”

Mr Nelson, a customer with BT for around 20 years, said: “I have kept a record of everything. I pay for my line rental in advance.

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“BT is a massive multi-million pound company. When I call my local council to make a payment, I am transferred to a different department to give my details, to protect my security.”

Mr Nelson is now calling for credit card providers to prevent “cross over” frauds such as his by incorporating an additional security code on a card to be used purely for online orders.

He added: “BT need to have more robust procedures for taking credit card payments over the phone and BT need to act more quickly and be seen to act more quickly when these situations arise.”