Top tips on how to avoid telephone scams

Although anyone can be targeted by fraudsters, scammers often focus on older people – over the phone, online, through the post, or door to door.

According to a report by Age UK, 43% of people aged 65 and over, which is almost five million people – believe they have been targeted by scammers but it is estimated only 5% of these crimes are ever reported.

Here our reporter Pauline Smith has put together some common telephone scams to look out for and top tips to help prevent Talking About My Generation readers from falling foul to fraud.

Telephone scams

The most common telephone scams are:

  • Cold calls – where you don’t know the caller
  • Banks scams – where they pretend to be from your bank
  • Computer repair scams – where they pretend to be from Microsoft or other software suppliers
  • Compensation calls – from companies saying you have had an accident
  • HMRC calls – pretending to be the taxman
  • Number spoofing – they pretend to be the number of a legitimate organisation like your bank
  • Pension and investment scams – pretending to be an independent adviser
  • Anti-scam scams – they claim to be selling anti-scam technology

What you should do if you get a call you are worried about:

  • Don’t reveal personal details. Never ever give out personal or financial information (such as your bank account details or your PIN) over the phone, even if the caller claims to be from your bank. Genuine callers from your bank would NEVER ask for these details.
  • Hang up. If you feel harassed or intimidated, or if the caller talks over you without giving you a chance to speak, end the call. It may feel rude to hang up on someone, but you have the right not to be pressurised into anything.
  • Ring the organisation. If you’re unsure whether the caller is genuine, you can always ring the company or bank they claim to be from. Make sure you find the number yourself and don’t use the one provided by the caller.
  • Don’t be rushed. Scammers will try to rush you into providing your personal details. They may say they have a time-limited offer or claim your bank account is at risk if you don’t give them the information they need right away.

For more information go to: https://www.ageuk.org.uk/information-advice/money-legal/scams-fraud/phone-scams/ or call your local Age UK or Citizens Advice Bureau and ask for help and advice.

Some solutions:

  • Register with the Telephone Preference Service. Get help from a trusted friend or relative if you are unsure what to do – it’s free and well worth it. Go to https://www.tpsonline.org.uk/ or call 0345 070 0707.
  • Landline phones that block all numbers other than those that have your most frequently called numbers. You can buy these phones from £20 upwards for a handset that will block nuisance calls. I have this system and never get cold calls. Also, the main landline phone providers offer a service that is either free or a few pounds a month. For more information go to: https://www.ofcom.org.uk/phones-telecoms-and-internet/advice-for-consumers/problems/tackling-nuisance-calls-and-messages/phone-company-services-that-can-help-tackle-nuisance-calls
  • Blocking on mobile phones: Again, register with the Telephone Preference Service as a starting point. You’ll need your phone number, postcode, and an email address to sign up on the Telephone Preference Service website. You can also sign up from your mobile by texting ‘TPS’ and your email address to 85095.
  • Stop getting nuisance texts: If you’ve given your number to a company in the past they may also send you texts. You can tell them to stop sending you texts by replying ‘STOP’ to the text message. Only reply with ‘STOP’ if the sender tells you who they are in the text or they’re identified in the ‘sent-from’ number. If you don’t recognise the sender of a nuisance text or it’s from an unknown number, don’t reply. This will let the sender know your number is active and they may send you more texts or call you.
  • Using apps to help with blocking nuisance calls: There are many apps that you can download onto your mobile phone to help with blocking nuisance calls. For more information go here: http://www.three.co.uk/hub/block-nuisance-calls/

Report a nuisance call or text

Registering with the Telephone Preference Service will stop you from getting nuisance calls, but if someone’s still bothering you 28 days after registering, then report them to the Telephone Preference Service.

Registering with the Telephone Preference Service won’t stop you from getting nuisance texts. Forward the text to 7726 – this spells ‘SPAM’ on your phone keypad. This will report the sender to your mobile network company. You won’t be charged for forwarding a text to 7726.

Reporting nuisance calls or texts also helps regulators track down who’s making them. You’re under no obligation to do this, but it’s quick and easy, and it’ll help more people in the long run. You’ll need to have your contact details and the company name or registration number to hand.

For more information go to: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer/phone-internet-downloads-or-tv/stop-getting-nuisance-calls-and-texts/

If you think you’ve been a victim of fraud, you should also report it to Action Fraud, using its online reporting tool, or by calling 0300 123 2040.

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