For many people the telephone may be the only daily contact that they have with the outside world. Unfortunately, scammers also recognise this and continue to prey on older vulnerable persons with the Financial Ombudsman Service stating that 80% of the people it dealt with who had been scammed were over the age of 55. Telephone scams come in a variety of packaging such as pension investments, HMRC refunds, to banking and courier scams. Over a third of all reported fraud cases are enabled via the telephone.
Whilst pension investment scams can be infuriating and tiresome with continual pre-recorded messages the banking and courier scams are quite frightening with the lengths that criminals will go to in an attempt to get hold of your money.
Scammers call and may claim to be from the police, National Crime Agency (NCA) or your bank and claim there has been a security breach or some un-explained transactions on your account or staff at your bank are involved in corrupt actions and they want YOU to help catch them. They will ask you to put the phone down and call them back immediately to verify who they are, even giving a phony password for you to use.
Confused, frightened they try to rush you into a decision. However, they will not disconnect their side of the call with you believing you are making a new outgoing call as you try to connect back to the police. Because some lines can take up to 10 seconds to disconnect, your call actually goes straight back to the scammers. They indulge in conversation about what the bank staff are doing, gaining your confidence with every step and convincing you what they are saying is true. They may ask you to move your money to a ‘safe account’, details of which they will give you. There is no such thing as a ‘safe account’. They may ask you to withdraw a considerable sum of money, telling you it is believed to be counterfeit cash. If this route is followed a courier is then sent to your door, checks the money, confirms it is counterfeit, gives a receipt and walks away with YOUR REAL cash.
On the same lines scammers will pretend your card has been used in fraudulent transactions and they need to retain it to complete their investigations, sending a courier to your home, who collects your card and again your account is drained. In one such case 65 year old Nargess Sadjady from West London made a £12,000 payment after falling for the scammers lies. Click here to see her story.
It’s not just cash these scammers are after. Using the same approach via the telephone and pretending to be police or NCA officers, the scammers ask for help in retrieving counterfeit goods, especially high value watches. A Lincolnshire man lost over £50,000.00 in such a scam over the purchase of two Rolex watches from a nearby jewellers.
He was called and given an extensive chat about how the jewellers were selling fakes and how he could help bring them to justice. Having given him answers to any questions he might be asked he bought the first watch. The courier called, confirmed it was fake and took the watch away. The scammers contacted him later and asked him to return to obtain the second watch, with another cover story. Watch purchased, same result with courier collecting. Only when checking his account did it come to light the money had not been re-placed into his bank as the scammers had said would happen.
Callers pretending to be from Microsoft claiming you have a fault on your computer, with similar from BT, Talk Talk and other such organisations are commonplace, all trying to gain access to your computer and keep cropping up because people STILL get caught out.
Sales pitches over the phone can also lead to the purchase of unwanted goods and often into rolling credit agreements, where scammers have control of what they’re going to charge you each month for those pills & potions, the various cosmetics to help ageing and even biscuits! Starting from amounts of £69.95 we have seen victims being charged £499.95 for a small box of un-tested tablets, which they had been receiving for over 18 months before the scam was identified.
Be aware of that pile of biscuit or pill boxes. It could be the sign of a victim.
People feel safe within their own homes to discuss all manner of things. The phone scammers know this and are good at what they do. They are very professional and know how to work their way round to making that sale and obtaining bank card details from a now confused victim.
The messages: DON’T DEAL WITH COLD CALLERS
DON’T TALK MONEY ON THE PHONE
- Never discuss bank or card details over the phone.
- Never hand your card or cash over to a ‘courier’.
- Never be rushed into making decisions over the phone.
- Never give your address or personal details to a cold caller over the phone.
- Hang up if you don’t want to talk to the person.
Your bank will never
- ask you to authorise a transfer of money to a new account, or hand over cash.
- ask for your PIN or passwords in full on the phone or via email.
- send someone to your home to collect cards or cash.
- ask you to send personal banking information via email or text.
- ask you to carry out a test transaction online.
How you can help
- Discuss the way telephone cons are delivered to your relatives, friends or clients.
- Explain about the dangers of disclosing personal or banking details.
- Warn about courier frauds.
- Register with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) – This will stop some of the unwanted commercial calls to your phone.
- Talk to your phone provider to see what privacy services and call-blocking services are available – be aware, you may need to pay for some of these services.
- Install a call blocker device – there are several products available that can be programmed to permit only calls you want – google ‘call blockers’.
If you believe you or someone you know has been a victim of a Telephone Scam please report it to the police immediately:
You will not resolve issues or change perspectives overnight, but, by REPEATING and drip feeding the information it will sink in and your patience and perseverance will help prevent further crimes.
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