Technological advances are beneficial but there is a downside. The use of technology in crime has also advanced.
There are ways of thieving now that simply weren’t there a few years ago.
A relative has recently fallen victim to a phone scam. While their bank is being phenomenally helpful, which is a great relief, I thought a post sharing information against scams could be useful.
And it would be great if people could write in with other scams so word can spread. This is one advantage of social media. I’ve come across a number of scams I wouldn’t have heard about otherwise.
Claiming to be from the Telephone Preference Service
I almost fell victim to someone claiming to be from the Telephone Preference Service recently. I went on this service years ago. There was a time when most nights I could guarantee at least one sales call, often at dinner time, and I got fed up with it.
This call asked me if I was happy with the TPS. I said yes, nuisance calls were reduced. I was asked on those few we still got, were they international calls? I said yes. I was then told the TPS could block these but they needed to “verify my details”. I said I never give out personal information over the phone and hung up. But this was clever.
One of the worst aspects of this kind of crime is the fact fraudsters are abusing people’s willingness to believe others are speaking truthfully to them. You reach a point where you have to query everything you see and hear, which is a horrible way of living, but it does safeguard against fraud.
Claiming to be from HMRC
I have also heard people are calling claiming to be from HMRC saying they are carrying out a survey to help improve how they work.
The big point to remember is to always call genuine phone numbers from organisations and check things out. They will be glad of the warning people are using their name to try to fool people and may be able to take action themselves. A simple phone call like this can save so much grief.
Fraudsters will use any information they gain about you against you.
Claiming to be from your Phone/Internet/Broadband Provider
In the case of my relative, someone claiming to be from their phone/broadband provider contacted them and claimed there were problems they needed to rectify. My relative “needed” to put their computer on and put their card into their card reader and all would be put right. The family member concerned saw a list of errors appear on their PC screen and then these errors apparently vanish when the card was put into the card reader.
Of course what happened was that the bank account was cleared out and the greedy thieves even attempted to take out a massive loan (which can be done online) in my family member’s name. This has been stopped and all has been reported to the bank.
I’m also glad to report the family member has been paid back. But the whole episode has left the family feeling sick and angry there are selfish, greedy, people who don’t care who they hurt.
The horrible thing about technological crime is it can lead to you not feeling safe in your own home. I should add my relative’s phone provider has also been very helpful.
Even when crime isn’t the direct object of people calling you, phishing for information can be dangerous too. How do you know who these people sell this information on to?
I have come across some useful advice. Many of these points come from various websites, including that of my relative’s phone provider though almost all will have this advice in common.
Just because someone claims to be from a company or from the bank doesn’t mean they are. Tell the person calling you that you need to double check their number, hang up, WAIT FIVE MINUTES AND IF POSSIBLE USE ANOTHER PHONE before ringing the number for the company or bank.
Always get phone number details from a trusted source, such as the official website or your latest bill or statement to check that the number is correct. If you receive a call that feels suspicious, or even if you’re just not sure, hang up and call back on the official number.
Phone a friend of other trusted number first, to make sure the previous caller really has hung up. They do not always do so and a classic scam is to pretend to have hung up when they are listening in on you. Information can be sold. It can also be abused.
2. Services by your Phone Provider
These will vary but you could check if they will offer free calling and privacy features. Do they allow you to block calls from withheld numbers? Do they allow you to block the last number that called you? Do they allow you to see the number of all incoming calls? Is there a service where you can report issues and ask your provider to block numbers for you?
Some phone providers offer an Anonymous Caller Reject function and this could be of interest. If you know the number of the person calling you, your service provider might have a Last Caller Barring feature you can activate to make sure you never hear from them again. Most service providers will also welcome you telling them about calls supposedly from them and will then block that number so nobody else is affected by the imposture.
3. Reporting Suspected Fraud
You can also contact Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud and internet crime reporting centre, on 0300 123 2040 or via their website.
4. Points to Remember
Your service provider should never use your account number to prove a call is genuine. (This did happen with my relative who was fooled by it).
Your service provider should never ask you to provide a full password. They should only ask you for two digits, the idea being to protect your security without asking you to give away too much information.
Your service provider should never ask for bank details to process a refund.
Your service provider should never ask for money to be sent to them via Moneygram or Western Union. The idea here is transactions are difficult to trace back using these companies (which I think is something both Moneygram and Western Union should look to change but that’s another issue).
5. Beware of:-
Discovering on your computer unasked for links or attachments which prompt you to download software (not just to computers but to mobile phones too). Your phone service provider will tell you if there is software they really would like you to install and they will put information and links on their websites.
Any calls, texts, links and/or attachments asking to remotely connect to your computer. Your phone service provider should never make such requests unless you have asked them first and for specific reasons. You should be able to check everything out.
Also people ring up claiming to be from the technical department saying they want to talk to you about issues they have discovered. All service providers will put up information about issues on their websites. They may write to their customers (via post or email) but they would flag up any genuine issues to make you aware there were some!
Scammers often ask you to switch off your mobile phone or remain on your landline for a long time to prevent your bank from calling you to verify a transaction.
Fake Refunds –
By claiming you are due for a refund, scammers could get personal information from you. If a refund is due, the company who owes you should have your information to hand and would not need to ask for banking or other details. The golden rule is if in doubt hang up on whoever has called you and ring the company yourself. And sadly it does pay to be in doubt and query everything.
6. Asking for Bank Details
Any call asking you to give bank details is likely to be a scam. Sometimes account details do need to be supplied because you want to set up a direct debit or change an existing instruction.
In this case, most companies will enable you to do this through their website via your account settings or there will be a number displayed on your most recent bill so you will know who to contact to genuinely do this. Also their website should have a padlock or other symbol indicating it is a secure site.
Never pay for viruses to be cleared from your computer or to fix issues over the phone. If someone claims they need to fix viruses, hang up. Your phone service provider will never ask you to download software or take over your computer to solve a problem. Always remember the so-called problem has been set up by the scammers.
Never check your account balance while a third party has remote access to your computer. They will see everything and from there it is a short step to taking everything.
Never go to a website because someone directed you there. It may look like the official one but it doesn’t mean that it is. Most scamming websites often have poor design and logos (spelling and grammar can be appalling too and can be a dead giveaway this site is not what it is supposed to be!).
Never allow yourself to be rushed into buying a service or product and then being pushed to give your bank details.
Always query why someone is asking for information from you.
Never be manipulated by strangers into acting in a way you would not normally do or to give away information.
Courier Fraud is when you are asked to give your cards to a courier supposedly sent by the bank or even the police so be alert to this one too.
Always report any suspected fraud to your bank immediately.
If you know about other scams, please share news via the comments box. It is true information is power. The clever bit is ensuring it is not used against you.
Read blog posts by Allison Symes published on Chandler’s Ford Today.
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