Highlands and Islands police are urging people to be on their guard against phone fraud, after three reported incidents within the last 24 hours.

People have been contacted by someone claiming to be from their bank and saying that their accounts have been compromised. They are encouraged to transfer money to a ‘safe account’ at another bank – which in reality belongs to the fraudsters.

Preventions and interventions officer Sgt Simon Hay said that police investigations were under way, and that it was important for individuals and businesses to know how to protect themselves.

Sgt Hay said: "It is a well-known tactic for scammers to alarm the account holder into believing their money is at risk and trick them into transferring their money to them. The effect can be devastating for the businesses and individuals who fall victim to these scams and I would urge everyone to be on guard at all times against this type of activity.

"The criminals who use tactics like this go to great lengths to appear legitimate, including making it appear that they are calling from the genuine number which is printed on your bank card. It is important to remember a genuine caller from your bank would never ask you to transfer money during an unsolicited call.

"Always be suspicious if someone claiming to be from your bank requests your bank or personal details - they should already have them and they wouldn't ask for them over the phone. A genuine caller will understand if you are sceptical and will not pressure you into taking immediate action.”

He recommended finding a number for the bank yourself and calling back from another phone if possible. Don’t call back on the number where the call came from. Double check numbers or call through an independently checked number, such as the main customer care number for the organisation.

If you are concerned, consider visiting your local branch instead of speaking to someone over the phone and never give out a banking password or PIN number over the phone. Finally, if you have concerns or suspicions, report them to police as soon as possible on 101.