This week is all about telephone scams. A scam is a scheme to con people out of their money. Other names for a scam include fraud, hoax, con, swindle, cheat. Each year millions of people in the UK fall prey to scammers. Estimates put the total cost to consumers at £73 billion with losses to mass-marketed scams alone of £5 billion.
Most victims don’t report scams – surveys have found reporting levels as low as 5 per cent.
The impacts are huge: some people lose their life savings. But victims also suffer emotional trauma, can become depressed, lose the confidence to live independently and can suffer long-term health problems as a result.
Last month, a client visited us reporting that money had fraudulently been taken from their account following a text message received claiming to be the bank. The client had responded to the message and without consent confirmed a transfer of nearly £5,000. A subsequent sum of money was taken again a few days later.
The client was encouraged by friends to visit us and, following a call made to the client’s bank, it was confirmed that the client had been a victim of a scam. An investigation has now been initiated and monies are being recovered to be paid back to the client.
With texting more popular than ever, it’s not surprising that organisations are increasingly choosing to contact their customers via text messaging. Accordingly, text messages are being used as a way of luring people into revealing their personal information, account details and ultimately their money.
Such scammers, compose messages convincingly as if they are a legitimate organisation and so it is important to recognise how to spot them. Technology that powers text messages allows people to put custom names in when they send messages allowing someone to easily pretend they are a well-known bank for example.
Even if the sender is a known organisation or business, treat it with caution if they are doing anything other than providing information. Beware of anyone asking for your bank details, PIN number or full passwords unless you are sure who you are talking to.
Another tactic fraudsters use involves them encouraging the caller to hang up and call their bank to verify the legitimacy of the call. However, the scammer actually remains on the line and listens in to the call and thus obtaining your details.
What to do if you suspect a scam?
REPORT scams and suspected scams to Action Fraud (0300 123 2040). If debit cards, online banking or cheques are involved, contact the bank or credit card company.
TELL family, friends, neighbours so that they can avoid scams