POLICE have issued a warning to residents after they attended 14 reports across Hampshire relating to PayPal issues resulting in losses of over £3,800.

Hampshire Police said a new service (159) has been developed and is currently being piloted by a range of banks and telephone companies across the UK in order to combat the increasing levels of fraud in the UK.

On one occasion, a Hampshire resident received a call from an individual purporting to be from Carphone Warehouse, encouraging them to enter into a new contract for a brand-new phone and tablet device.

When the victim received wrong items, they arranged to return them to an address provided by the fraudster on two different occasions, until they grew suspicious.

As they contacted Carphone Warehouse to alert them to the fact they had returned the device, the company had no knowledge of any such request but did confirm that a new contract had been set up in their name.

However, the victim was charged approximately £245 in the process.

Police also advised people to be careful while transferring money to strangers via PayPal.

Hampshire residents lost over £3,800 in just two weeks (September 23 to October 5) in 14 reports relating to PayPal issues.

A spokesperson for Hampshire Constabulary said: “If you are purchasing items from someone unknown to you and they request payment via PayPal, then please be aware that there is an option to select ‘paying for goods or services’.

“This essentially means that the seller has to pay a nominal fee to receive the money. In doing so, this is likely to result in ensuring that the seller is genuine, and is also covered by PayPal’s protection policy – meaning you may be liable to a refund if it has deemed that fraudulent activity has occurred.”

Police said the new fraud reporting service (159) works very much in the same way as 101 does with the police and 111 for the NHS – it ensures that you are protected against possible fraudsters attempting to gain access to personal information or financial information such as bank details.

“You can call 159 if someone contacts you saying they’re from your bank – even if they are not suspicious; or you receive a call asking you to transfer money or make a payment – even if it seems genuine; or you receive a call about a financial matter and it seems suspicious.

“Remember, 159 will never call you.”

“The service, which includes the likes of Barclays, Lloyds (inc. Halifax and Bank of Scotland), Natwest (incl. Royal Bank of Scotland and Ulster Bank) as well as Santander and Starling Bank, allows people to contact their participating bank directly if they think they are being scammed.”

Police have also advised residents not to provide personal or banking details over the phone to someone who you have received a cold-call from, even if they suggest they are from a well-recognised retailer, bank or even the police.

“Those organisations will never ask you for your banking or debit/credit card details.

“Reputable and genuine companies will not be offended by you wanting to verify that they are who they say they are; however ensure that the number you hold for that company or have has come from a reputable source, not one that the fraudsters may have given you over the phone.

“If you’re suspicious about the phone call, we would advise you to hang up and then contact the retailer directly to check it is a genuine. Wait 15 minutes before doing so, just in case the fraudsters have kept your line open.”