Friday, 30 November 2018

Avoid Scam Phone Calls

There is a huge industry that is scamming people all over the world out of their hard-earned money. One of the methods is cold calling people on the telephone to obtain money or information that can lead to money being taken later. Many of the calls originate from India and Pakistan but are not limited to these countries.

Here are a few examples of what are currently popular scams in the UK.

The Microsoft Scam Phone Call

This has been an extremely popular scam and I used to get regular calls to my phone, even daily. The caller would tell me that they were from Microsoft and that my computer has informed them that it has a problem. Now that is very strange as my computer is an Apple Mac! However, it did not stop their patter when I told them that my computer was a Mac as the callers invariably did not seem to know what a Mac is.

The intention of the caller is to gain access to your PC and charge you a considerable amount of money to remove a virus. Those that have fallen for this scam have 2 issues. Firstly the scammer can install malware that gives them access to the PC and details stored on it and secondly they come back for another round of payments later when you need to upgrade their original work. The amounts they charge are enormous and in many cases, they are so greedy they exceed the cost of a new computer.

The BT Router / IP address Scam Phone Call

It would seem that the Microsoft call is being adapted to the callers saying they are from BT (British Telecom - the main UK provider of phone lines) and that your router has an issue or your IP address is going to be blocked. The whole point of this is once again to gain access to your computer and obtain payments.

Bank Scam

The caller is claiming to be from your bank or credit card company and is trying to get your pin number. Your card details are most likely already with the scammer. They will ask you for a couple of the digits as a so-called security test then put you through to another department who will randomly request the remaining digits. Genuine banks never ask for any part of your pin number. If you get such a call put the phone down and call the fraud line of your bank or credit company immediately. It might be time to change the card number if it's being targeted.

Some of these callers will ask you to call your bank directly but will keep the line open and then pretend you have just dialled in. Remember if they ask you to do this put the phone down and either, use a completely separate line or wait a while for the line to clear. Only dial a number that you can see displayed by your own bank on the card or their official website or paper statements.

Investment Scam Phone Calls

Here is the UK many older people are targeted who might have pension funds stored away and the caller will sell them worthless shares or simply get the person to transfer money to the scammer. These scammers will often come back for a second attempt pretending to be a company that can get your money back for a fee.

You Have Won a Competition

Great news! You have won a super prize but to get it paid or delivered to you an administration fee or taxes have to be paid. There is, of course, no prize. As in the scam above, quite often the scammer will come back promising to get your lost money back or there is a little more still to pay to get your winnings.

The object of all these calls is to scam you out of your money. So the question is, 'How can you protect yourself or your loved ones from the scammers?'

Rule 1

Is to listen carefully to the caller. A genuine computer company will never call you to inform you have a problem out of the blue. Your broadband provider will not do so either and ask for payments.
Have you ever won a competition that you have not entered? No, of course not, so any call like this is going to be a scam. In the scam, it is nearly always going to be winnings that are in another country and hence justify the fees the scammer is asking for. A similar email and postal scam have been running for years. Therefore hang up immediately with the word - scammer.

Rule 2

Do not give any personal details even if you feel like winding up the caller. It is best to tell them you don't believe them and don't call again. Some recommend avoiding saying 'yes' to questions in case they are going to patch in your words to something they can use later on. I am not sure if this is being done but prevention is better than cure.

Rule 3

Use a call blocker on the line so that callers leave a message such as their name and company before you answer. Many scammers are put off by this but it is not 100% guaranteed to do so. If you don't recognise the company or caller be very aware. Such things as we have here the UK as The Telephone Preference Service can cut out genuine sales calls but will not stop the scammers. These scammers will also often use what appear to be local phone numbers on your phone display so banning international calls is also no way to prevent them from calling.

Some scammers like voicemail and it has been used widely in the scam plaguing the USA where scammers are pretending to collect IRS payments with threats of arrest to get the money. They are happy to leave voicemails and get people to call them back. Most of the scammers will have Asian accents but use an English name, a warning in itself.

Rule 4

Elderly people who can be more easily confused and often trusting are a target. The scammers love these as getting them to hand over money and banking details is much more successful. Talk to your family and warn them. Protect them by installing call blockers on the phone and maybe having funds in accounts that can't be accessed immediately. If an elderly relative is struggling with dementia or confusion, see if you can take responsibility for their money using appropriate legal ways to do so. Above all speak regularly to them and see if they have been getting any calls such as those mentioned here and encourage them to always call you or another responsible family member if they do.

Rule 5

If a call does not fall into one of the above scenarios and you are not sure, then err on the safe side and treat it as a scam call. If people want to access your computer, personal details, saying they are your bank and wanting security information and are asking for money over the phone it will be a scam.

Sadly there are lots of scammers who are operating around the world and the telephone has become a tool that they have been very adept at using. Be careful and avoid being scammed.

I hope that you have found this post helpful and please do leave a comment and tell us about any phone scams that you have come across.

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