SPOTTING SCAM PHONE CALLS
Look out for the following signs of a scam call:
- the caller asks you to transfer money to a new account for fraud reasons
- they phone to ask for your 4-digit PIN or online banking password. Even if they ask you to tap it into your telephone keypad rather than saying it out loud, it’s still a scam
- the caller doesn’t give you time to think, tries to stop you from speaking to another householder or is insistent and makes you feel uncomfortable
- they ask you to withdraw money to hand over to them for safekeeping
- they say you’ve been a victim of fraud and offer to send a courier to your home to collect your cash, PIN, payment card or cheque book.
SPOTTING SCAM TEXT MESSAGES
Look out for the following signs of a scam text message:
- it asks you to provide sensitive personal or financial information, passwords, or to make transactions or claim refunds by following a link in the message
- it claims to be from your bank or another reputable organisation and asks you to call a number that isn’t familiar to you. In this case, call the organisation on their official number and check that the message was authentic
- the sender uses an urgent tone, urging you to ‘act now.
Look out for the following signs that someone you know might be a target of telephone scams. They:
- receive high volumes of phone calls and/or texts
- make frequent payments
- reference “opportunities” offered by callers
- refer to callers as friends- Sometimes, victims of telephone scammers come to feel that the people calling them are friends – if they live alone, sometimes the scammers are the only people they have regular contact with
- talk about a helpful caller who has helped them to “fix” their computer.
PROTECTION ON THE PHONE
- Never agree to anything over the phone. Just hang up if you feel at all wary of a caller.
- Please don’t assume a caller or texter is genuine because they already have some details about you, such as your name. Criminals will often already have some basic information about you.
- Remember: Your bank or building society will NEVER contact you out of the blue to ask for your PIN, full password or to move money to another account. So if you receive a call from your bank requesting any of these, hang up immediately.
- Never give out any personal information over the phone, such as bank account or credit card details, unless you made the call.
- If you’re not sure about a caller who claims to be from a legitimate bank or company, you can always end the call and then call the company back yourself, using a phone number from their official website or letters sent to you. Always wait five minutes before calling back to ensure the first caller has hung up – it takes both sides to terminate a phone call.
- Never give control of your computer remotely to a third party over the phone.
- Never reply to unsolicited text messages, even to try and stop them. Just delete them.
There are also some practical steps you can take in advance to reduce the risk that you will fall victim to a telephone scam:
- Register with the Telephone Preference Service: This will stop legitimate companies from making unsolicited sales and marketing calls to your phone number. Of course, scammers won’t notice the TPS – but if you are registered with TPS and know you are not supposed to receive any more calls, it should be obvious that the caller is not legitimate. Register at www.tpsonline.org.uk.
- Opt-out of unsolicited calls: Mobile phone users can also send a simple text message to opt-out of unsolicited sales and marketing calls. Add your number to the UK’s official ‘Do Not Call’ database, text ‘TPS’ and your email address to 85095.
- Install a call blocker: Installing a call blocker is another way of preventing nuisance calls from getting through, blocking up to 98% of nuisance calls. Many home phones now come with some call-blocking technology, and most telephone service providers will have their own versions that you can subscribe to as part of their service or are provided free of charge, e.g. BT Call Protect. You can alternatively buy a separate call blocking device that plugs into your existing phone.
- Action Fraud’s video series called The Devil’s in their Details includes a film about phone fraud.