How to avoid the top 5 phone scams

Some people are always trying to find new ways to con each other out of money, from unscrupulous used car salesmen ‘clocking’ the mileage on their motors to internet hackers sending out phishing emails to unsuspecting consumers.

And then there are good old-fashioned phone scams, so here are the top five to look out for and avoid…

What is a phone scam?

A phone scam is when a cold call is made to defraud you out of money or sensitive information, such as your bank details, usually by claiming to be from a bank or other service provider.

Microsoft scams

Effective phone scams need to have as  much mass-appeal as possible to make sure most cold calls hit the target. And so there are a couple of scams involving Microsoft – after all, how many people do you know that don’t use Windows?

  • The Microsoft technical department – it’s fair to assume that most people who have a PC don’t know, or even wish to know, exactly how they work. And so cold callers target users by pretending to be from Microsoft and claiming to have found a problem with your computer.Next up they will ask you to log into a website to give the caller total control over your desktop and thereby enable them to obtain all sorts of personal details and sensitive data.
  • The Windows scam – similar to the technical department scam, this is where a cold caller claims to be calling from Windows having found a virus on your computer, before warning you you your computer will become unusable if you don’t take action right away.You’ll then be instructed to download a program and asked you to pay a fee. Don’t believe a word of it though as Windows has warned it never contacts customers unless they have personally reported and registered a problem.

Missed calls scam

When someone receive a missed call from a number they don’t recognise, there’s a good chance they’ll call it back – but there’s a risk it may be redirected  to a premium rate number.

Scammers will make ‘ghost calls’ to a list of number and hang up before the call is answered, leaving you with a missed call on your phone. If curiosity gets the better of you, you may unknowingly be calling and getting charged for calling premium rate numbers.

Mystery message scams

The mystery message scam is a variation on the missed call scam theme – basically you get a text message from an unknown number, similar to one you might receive from a friend, and texting it back can leave you with a big hole in your pocket.

If you don’t recognise the number, don’t text back  -if it’s a genuine message the person will most likely call you back.

HMRC

No one wants to get a call from HMRC – it’s rarely good news – and so any call saying you’re entitled to a tax rebate will no doubt be met with a fair degree of suspicion, and rightly so in this case.

This scam sees the caller telling you you’re due a rebate before asking you for your bank details so they can transfer the money to your account. Obviously, there’ll be no money making its way to your account and it may actually be leaving your account if that’s the scammers intention.

Sky protect scam

Sky Protect is the broadcaster’s insurance policy and is a service used by scammers to get access to your bank details. The fraudster will call you up encouraging you to take out cover, before asking you to verify your bank details – they may even have your customer number to make the scam seem even more legitimate.

If you’ve any doubts, put the phone down and call sky yourself.

How to stop cold callers

One way to help stop phone scams is to stop your number being available for cold calls, here’s how…

Have you ever been the victim of any phone scams? Let us know…

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