Phone scams are on the increase. Across the UK, criminals are targeting households in order to defraud people out of their money.
Fraudsters often use the phone to cold-call their way into your home. They trick you by pretending to be from a trusted source – your bank, the police, a utility provider or a computer company. Their aim? To get hold of your personal or financial information that they can use in criminal ways. They use various strategies in order to do this, some of which are described below.
In order for them to access your bank details (account numbers, sort codes, PIN numbers and passwords) they cleverly con you into giving away this information. If they can get access to your bank cards, or persuade you to transfer money into bank accounts they control, most of their work is done. Their tricks are very persuasive, and often relentless.
Don’t fall for their tricks.
How the scams work and what you can do to stay safe
- One of the most common methods is for a fraudster to pose as your bank or the police. They claim your bank account has been fraudulently accessed, and that in order to protect your account you must act quickly. They say the solution is for you to transfer your money to a so-called ‘safe account’. But actually, this account is controlled by the fraudster. When you move the money, they steal it.
- In a complex twist on this scam, the fraudster asks you to assist in a police investigation. The story is that staff in a bank, or foreign money exchange, are acting corruptly by issuing fake currency. You are then asked by the fraudster to visit the branch and withdraw a large amount of cash, and to take it home and wait for it to be picked up later. A fraudster then knocks on the door, posing as a policeman or courier.
- Fraudsters often use a tactic called ‘number spoofing’, in order to make their call appear genuine. The number you see on your phone display matches that of your bank. But in fact the fraudster has manipulated this number, by disabling the actual number they are calling from. Should you query who they are and if they are genuine, they ask you to check your handset display in an attempt to convince you it’s a real call.
Other common phone scams
- The fraudster, often claiming to come from some well-known computer company such as Microsoft, will try to convince you that your computer has a virus, or that your internet connection is running slow. To ‘fix’ the problem the fraudster will ask you to allow them to take control of your computer in order to work on it. Once on your computer, they install software which steals your personal data. Also, if the fraudster asks you to access your online bank account for payment, they can see you enter all your login details.
- Another computer-related scam is when the fraudster claims that you are due a refund or compensation for poor service, such as for your internet connection. They ask for your bank details to make the refund. However, they then claim they have accidentally sent you thousands of pounds, rather than hundreds, and that this error will cost them their job. They then request you to refund the difference via a wire transfer.