Tips to avoid being scammed
Online, text and phone scams are becoming increasingly sophisticated each year. The more consumers get to grips with how to avoid falling for scammers, their strategies evolve into more cunning ways to cheat you out of your money. In order to avoid phone scams, not only has education had to adapt, but technology has too.
For example, scammers are able to hack or clone a persons phone contact list or social media page. And then they use this to text, whatsapp or message that persons friends and family directly asking for money, pleading financial need. If someone you know and care for contacts you this way in need, pick up the phone. Always speak to the person first to ensure the request is legitimate before making a decision or taking action.
Avoid phone scams
Certain landline phones are now able to help protect people from receiving scam calls at all. This is especially important for the more vulnerable in our society, for example, those with dementia or mental health issues. This is why Trading Standards Scotland has set up a new scheme to offer free trueCall phones to certain members of the community. They are able to block certain numbers, or only allow pre-approved and trusted numbers through. It’s also possible to allow family members to monitor calls to the device, to make sure nothing untoward is happening.
If you have any questions about scam phone calls, please get in touch with us and we will be happy to chat.
Spotting scam calls, texts and links
Being aware of the types of scam calls at the moment is a good idea and will help you to stay safe when your phone rings.
1. Never give out your bank details
Scam calls usually try to get money from you. So if you receive a call that you aren’t expecting which asks for your bank details, card details or any other kind of financial or personal information, simply hang up. If you are concerned it was a real call from your bank or building society, you can always call them back later to confirm. If you do, make sure you use a number from a letter or their website – never just dial back the number that called you.
2. Don’t trust robots
Have you ever had a robocall? This is when you answer the phone and immediately a voice starts talking to you. It can be a robotic, monotone voice or sometimes a recording of a real person. Generally, they will be threatening you with court or jail as you have not paid a fine. This, of course, is entirely made up. If you owe money, you will receive a letter through the post and not a recorded message.
3. Don’t be pressurised into paying
Sometimes, it is a real person on the other end of the line. They know how to create a panic – they can sound friendly, official and scary at the same time. They might tell you that you owe money and it has to be paid immediately. This is a red flag – they don’t want you to hang up, because then you will have time to think and realise that it isn’t legitimate.
4. Trust your instincts
Often the number they have called you from seems genuine. It might even look like the legitimate number of your bank, building society or another place you trust. However, scammers can ‘clone’ numbers and make it look like they are calling from places that they aren’t. Always trust your instincts. If you feel uncomfortable or are being pushed to pay money, hang up. If it was a legitimate call, they should have already contacted you via mail
5. You haven’t won a prize
“Congratulations! You have won £25,000 in our prize draw!” Well, that would get anyone’s attention. But consider – did you even enter a prize draw? Did you think you are in with a chance of winning money? People don’t give away large sums of money to random people on the phone. Furthermore, they will probably ask you to pay a fee to ‘release the prize’. Unfortunately, there is no prize and it is a scam preying on those who are most vulnerable.
6. There is no problem with your payment details
Have you been told that your regular payment for a TV license hasn’t gone through this month? Or your mobile? Or energy or anything else? Be exceptionally wary of these calls – especially if they want to take payment from you then and there to solve it. If you want to make sure they are genuine, you can always ask them to confirm your details – name, address, account details. If they can’t, then they are scammers.
Any time you are the slightest bit concerned that it isn’t a genuine phone call, the caller will have no problems if you want to call them back later.
7. Don’t pay in gift cards
Some scammers will ask you to pay them in gift cards. They might want money put onto a pre-paid card, or for you to buy gift cards, for example from Amazon or Apple. This is a clear sign of a scam, and the phone can be hung up immediately.
Stay scammer aware
Keeping an eye out for such unexpected calls can help you avoid phone scams. Speaking to a family member or trusted friend about calls you receive is a good idea to make sure you are doing the right thing. If you would like to speak to us at East Dunbartonshire Citizen’s Advice about any scam calls you think you may have received, and how to stop getting unwanted calls, then please get in touch. We will be happy to offer advice.
I think I’ve been hacked or scammed!
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