Scam calls, fraudulent texts and how to avoid being caught out
“…Hello there. I’m calling you today on behalf of your insurer. We believe you were involved in an accident…”
You slam the phone down, irate.
We’ve all been there. An Ofcom report in 2019 showed that around 79% off receive nuisance phone calls to our landlines or mobile phones every year. Nuisance calls can range from the relatively mundane – think the classic double glazing or conservatory sales cold call - to out-and-out cons that can leave individuals seriously out of pocket, with the same Ofcom report suggesting that 1 in 4 nuisance calls are now financial scams. These figures also include nuisance text messages, often containing links to scam websites or harmful spyware.
So, how do you tell the annoying cold callers from the scammers? What should you and your family look out for?
What should I do if I get a scam call?
- Don’t reveal your personal details
Never give our personal or financial information (such as your PIN) over the phone or via text message. Your bank would never ask for these details over the phone.
- Hang up
Sounds simple, but often callers will use tactics of harassment and intimidation that can leave you feeling anxious and panicky. It may feel rude to hang up on someone, but it is your right not to be pressured in this way.
- Ring the organisation
Have your doubts? Ring the company or bank the caller claims to be from, using the telephone number on their website (not a number given to you by the cold caller).
- Register with the Telephone Preference Service
The Telephone Preference Service is free and allows you opt-out of any unsolicited live telesales calls, reducing the number of cold calls you receive. Unfortunately, this will not stop all scam calls – so stay alert.
Yes, you read that right. As crazy as it seems, criminals are using the COVID-19 vaccine as a way to target the public by tricking them to hand over cash or financial details. They are sending convincing-looking text messages letting people know they are eligible for the vaccine or phoning people directly pretending to be from the NHS or local pharmacy. Remember: the vaccine is free and the NHS will never ask for your bank details or copies of personal documents (such as passports).
You may receive a call from someone claiming to work for your bank, often telling you that there is a problem with your card or account. Never hand over your bank details, PIN or other account information – your bank would never ask you to do this.
This is a common scam where a caller will claim to be from the helpdesk of a large IT firm, such as Microsoft or Dell. Real IT companies do not contact customers this way. Never download any ‘anti-virus’ software or similar when you receive a call like this, as this will often turn out to be damaging and costly spyware.
Those calls asking about a car accident you’ve supposedly had, claiming that you “may be entitled to compensation”. If you have been in accident, contact your own insurance company using the phone number provided on your policy.
What's not a scam? IFF Research and Connexus
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IFF Research will always call on 0208 049 5758. If you receive a call and you’re unsure or if you don’t want to take part, you are under no obligation to do so. These are not scam calls. We do however encourage you to share your views so we can improve the service we deliver to you and others.