One in ten Glasgow call centres have already been infiltrated by criminal gangs looking to steal sensitive customer information, Strathclyde police have said.

The information is used for identity fraud to establish fake accounts or steal customer’s money. But, although the Consumer Contact Association said the problem was not out of control, it admitted the problem was causing concern in the industry.

“We have 300-plus call centres,” said detective chief inspector Derek Robertson of Strathclyde Police told the BBC's Newsnight Scotland programme last night.

He said approximately 10% had been targeted by criminal gangs, using a variety of methods including bullying or bribing call centre staff to reveal sensitive information.

Anne Marie Forsyth of the Customer Contact Association suggested the problem was mostly focused on the financial services sector. She added: "The contact centre sector is far wider with travel, health, insurance and lots of others. Nevertheless it is obviously a concern and it's a concern for all businesses.”

Strathcylde police has said call centre fraud would now be top if its agenda, with the industry employing 18,000 people in Glasgow alone. Some 800,000 people work in call centres across the UK.