PEOPLE in the district are being warned to guard against telephone scammers.

It comes after Visa card holders were targeted by automated calls, claiming a £600 transaction had been made on their card.

The recorded message encourages those targeted to follow instructions using their telephone keypad, before being transferred to a criminal posing as an agent.

In a statement, Visa confirmed that the calls were not genuine. It added: "Visa will not call or email cardholders to request personal account information.

"Report suspicious calls or emails by calling the number on the back of your card.

"Do not give out information unless you have initiated the communication or have verified the source.”

The scam is an issue affecting Visa customers, and is not tied to a particular bank. However, banks are doing all they can to protect their customers.

A spokeswoman for HSBC, which has a branch in Hexham, said: "The calls may show a local dialling code to trick people into answering. Any customers who receive a call like this should hang up and report it to Action Fraud.

"Protecting customers against scams is a top priority for us, and we constantly work with the authorities and alongside others in the industry to identify and address the ever-changing techniques used by fraudsters.

"In order to reduce the chance of becoming the victim of a scam, we encourage people to take a look at our scams leaflet or the the UK Finance Take 5 website for details on the latest scams and how they can protect themselves."