Phone scams – We show below some of the types of calls you may receive from ‘scammers’. Please be aware that they will use all sorts of techniques and questions in order to get information from you. There are now a number of different services offered by telephone and broadband providers that can block and protect you from these nuisance calls. Contact your providers for further information. The website for Action Fraud lists the difference types of fraud that has been used in the past. http://www.actionfraud.police. uk/a-z_of_fraud
1) Compensation calls
You may get calls from companies asking about car accidents you have had and offering you compensation. Some of these could be genuine companies looking for business but others will be scammers. Alternatively, you may have received calls about the mis-selling of PPI (payment protection insurance). Either way, don’t engage with these callers directly and call your insurance company if you have had an accident and want to find out more about how to claim on your policy. If you have actually been mis-sold PPI, then check out our page on PPI and what to do.
2) The computer scam
A type of telephone fraud where scammers will call you claiming to be from the helpdesk of a well-known IT firm, such as Microsoft. They’ll tell you that your computer has a virus and will charge you to upload ‘anti-virus software’. This turns out to be spyware, which is used to get hold of your personal details. Never respond to an unsolicited phone call from someone claiming that your computer has a virus. If you receive a call like this, hang up straight away. Legitimate IT companies don’t contact customers this way. Read our guide to staying safe online for more tips and advice.
3) Bank or HMRC scams
It’s a common scam to be called by someone claiming to be from your bank and saying there’s a problem with your card or account. They may ask for your account and card details, including your PIN number, and may offer to send a courier to collect your card from you so they can resolve the problem. They may also suggest transferring your money to a ‘safe account’ to protect it. If you get a call like this, hang up immediately, even if they try to persuade you that your card has been cloned or your money is at risk.
Or you may get a call from someone claiming to be from HMRC saying there is an issue with your tax refund or an unpaid tax bill. They may leave a message and ask you to call back. Don’t ever call a number you haven’t verified first – check your tax paperwork or online to get HMRC’s actual number before calling them.
4) Number spoofing
Scammers now have the technology to mimic an official telephone number so it comes up on your caller ID display (if you have one on your phone). This can trick you into thinking the caller is really from a legitimate organisation, like a bank or utility company. Remember if you are in any doubt about whether or not the call is genuine, hang up and call the organisation directly on a different phone. If you’re using the same phone, wait 10 minutes in case the scammers keep the line open.
5) Pensions and investment scams
You may get an unsolicited phone call about an ‘unmissable’ investment opportunity, or offering pension liberation and legal loopholes to access your pension cash earlier. Hang up on unsolicited calls like these. See our sections on pensions scams and investment scams for more information about these types of scams.
6) Anti-scam scams
You may get phone calls claiming to be from a charity supporting scam victims, a company selling anti-scam technology, or from someone demanding money to renew your Telephone Preference Service registration, which is actually free. Be wary of anyone asking you for money or financial details over the phone, and don’t give them the information they ask for. You can check a charity’s registration with the Charity Commission to find out if they are genuine.
Beware of bogus traders
Bogus traders operating door-to-door will often take advantage of poor weather conditions to offer their services, including flooding and high winds, which may have caused damage to your property.
Otherwise they may try and point out ‘problems’ that don’t actually exist. Such traders can be extremely persuasive and elderly and vulnerable people are often targeted. Low prices are quoted, but as the work starts the price tends to increase.
In most cases the work is done to a very poor standard, leaving the owner facing a second bill to have the work redone properly. They use a variety of sales pitches to get you to agree to having work done. These include suggesting that the property, if not repaired, will be dangerous and may cause additional problems to the structure of your home or putting a time restriction on the offer to hurry you into making a decision.
The work will normally be done immediately, before the householder changes their mind, and very often any information provided by the workmen (names, addresses, telephone numbers) are false, making them very hard to trace.
How to protect yourself from bogus traders:
· don’t be forced into making a quick decision on the doorstep
· get at least three quotes from local reputable companies who have reputations to maintain, and if possible seek recommendations
· only deal with firms with genuine verifiable telephone numbers and addresses – beware of companies that only use mobile phone numbers and accommodation addresses
· anyone who signs a contract on the door step following a visit that was not arranged (unsolicited) does have 7 days in which to cancel it by law.
· all cancellation rights must be provided in writing to the customer at the time the contract is agreed, usually on the doorstep – it is an offence not to do so
· if you don’t want to speak to the trader don’t open your door to them – it can be hard to distinguish the good traders from the cowboys so it might be easier to keep the door closed
· do not allow uninvited callers into your home
· refuse to be taken to the bank to withdraw money – if you ever feel intimidated by them, close the door and call the police