Scammers are often sophisticated criminals who use many different methods in trying to obtain personal and company information. They trick millions of people every year and in the current health crisis scamming is on the rise.
Below are some of the methods that scammers use and how to check if you are being scammed or if it is genuine
Text message scams
Spotting scam messages is becoming increasingly difficult, many scams will even fool the experts. However, there are some tricks that criminal will use to try and get you to respond without thinking.
Authority – is the message claiming to be from someone official? such as HMRC or the NHS, the HMRC are very unlikely to text you they would normally write to you.
Urgency – dose it has a limited time to respond such as 24hrs or immediately? does it mentioned a fine if you do not?
Emotion – dose the message make you panic or feel fearful or curious? the scammer will often use threatening language or make false claims to tease you to wanting to find out more.
Web links – is there an unusual weblink in the message that the scammer is trying to lure you into clicking on?
If you are not sure if a message is real or fake call the company directly and inquire never click on the web links or reply to the message.
Below is an example message, notice how it is address dear customer rather than your name and notice the web address is not taking you to a .gov page.
Suspicious text messages should be forwarded to 7726. This free-of-charge short code enables your phone provider to investigate the origin of the text and take action, if found to be malicious.
Telephone call scams
Over half of all scams start with a phone call, here are some common scams and how not to get caught out.
Bank and Building society and HMRC scams
These scams involve a scammer pretending to be from your bank phoning to say you have been a victim of fraud. They will try and ask you for personal and financial information to get access to your account.
What should you do – put the phone down to the scammer, wait 15- 20 mins before you call your bank on a trusted phone number to check out if the claim that is being made is true. The reason to wait 20 mins is because scammers are clever and can keep the phone line open while you think you are making a new call in fact you are just speaking to the scammer. If possible, always try to use a different phone.
Computer software scams
You may get calls where the scammer will claim to be calling from Microsoft or other large IT software company. Saying there is an issue on your PC and the need full remote access to your computer to fix it.
What should you do – Put the phone down do not follow any instructions from them as they will talk you through how to let them on your PC and downloaded all your data and then wipe your PC. If you are worried that there is an issue with your PC call your IT company or trusted person on a different phone to get them to check your PC.
Protecting yourself from telephone scams
There are a few ways you can try and protect yourself from the cold call scammers.
Reject cold calls – sign up for a call blocking service this may not stop all scam calls but will stop some. We suggest registering with the Telephone Preference Service – https://www.tpsonline.org.uk/
If you receive a call from someone you don’t know, always ask for the name of the person, check this information by calling the company’s office on a different phone line.
Do not rely on caller ID display, scammer can clone telephone numbers of organisations. If you are unsure on the call just say you will call them back, if it is genuine, they will never have a problem with this. Also look up the number from the official website, i.e. the banks or HMRC’s website.
Sadly if you have fallen foul of one of these in the past then you are likely to keep getting calls or text messages from similar scams. Your number will probably be distributed to other scammers or reused by the same scammers again and again. The best way to defeat the scammers is to make others aware of the scams. If you found this useful please forward to others you know.