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Cold callers: let’s freeze them out

calendar03 November 2016

Joseph Allison's avatar Joseph Allison

Cold callers: let’s freeze them out

It has gradually become a regular part of my life that every now and then, someone will call me and tell me I’ve been in a car crash…

I haven’t had a car crash recently, or rather I hope I haven’t because a car crash that you can’t remember seems a little more worrying than one you can remember! Sometimes they phone my home and tell me there’s something wrong with my Windows PC – again, the Windows PC I don’t have (other computers are available). Of course, I know they’re all scam calls from people hoping to steal my money and my details.

It’s easy to shrug it off and laugh about it, but in fact a recent study found that more than half of British adults regularly receive scam calls more than once a month. Up to a third receive a call at least once a week. Scammers are getting more sophisticated and are using a wide range of tactics both on the phone, by post, face to face and online, with up to three percent of British people saying they’ve lost money to them. For various reasons, they benefit from targeting vulnerable people, the elderly and people who might be in debt already. They often tempt people in with the false promise of free money or compensation, only for their victims to find that their money is gone.

It’s a serious problem.

You should be careful not to buckle under pressure. Many scammers use intimidation tactics or pressure you with a once in a lifetime offer; a ‘now or never’ deal. The main thing to be aware of is being asked to disclose personal or financial details. Never give out your bank pin codes, passwords or online bank codes. You should only disclose other personal details like names and addresses if you are certain who is on the end of the phone. If you think the call may be legitimate and you’re interested, or if you’re already a customer of the supposed company for example, you can always ask to hang up and call the company back directly.

If you think you’ve been a victim of fraud either on the phone, online, by post or in person, the first thing you need to do is report the crime. You can do this by going to Action Fraud, the national hub for reporting fraud and cyber crime.

Keep getting calls from the same number? On most phones you can block certain numbers from contacting you or you can simply screen them. Legitimate callers are slightly more likely to leave a message (though, of course, you should still be vigilant). Which? has launched a campaign to get the government to crack down on cold calling and nuisance calls. To sign the petition, view the list of the top ten most reported numbers and find out more about identifying a scam call and staying safe, click here.

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