Over half of us (58%) have received suspicious phone calls angling for sensitive data like bank details and last year the amount of money lost to phone scams tripled – with fraudsters cashing in to the tune of a staggering £23.9 million.
They are the alarming findings of a study from Financial Fraud Action UK (FFA UK), which represents banks, building societies and card companies – so what should you be on the lookout for?
How to spot a phone scam
The one, sure-fire way to spot a phone scam is if the person on the other end of the phone asks for sensitive information like passwords or PIN numbers – verification will only ever be things like the first line of your address, your date of birth and if they do ask for any PIN details it’ll just be certain numbers and not the whole thing.
Bear in mind though that if you’ve set a password as part of account security you may be asked for the full word. You will never be asked to disclose an alpha-numeric password in full.
You need to be extra-vigilant when answering cold-callers though, as the fraudsters are getting ever more sophisticated.
Sophisticated phone scams
The key thing to remember about fraudsters is they’ll prey on people’s naivety and insecurities – hence the common scam where a ‘Microsoft’ employee calls and tells you there’s a virus on your computer before letting you know you’ll have to hand over your credit card details to get it fixed.
And cold calling scams generally involve fraudsters tricking victims into thinking they’re speaking with a trusted representative, such as a police officer or bank staff, before conning them to part with sensitive information, such as credit card details.
And they don’t just ask for the numbers now, they will actually ask you to key in the digits of your PIN and then work out the numbers from the tones made by each key stroke.
Fraudsters might also ask consumers to hang up and phone back in an attempt to win their confidence.
So serious a problem has phone scamming become that FFA UK has launched a nationwide campaign to warn people about the telltale signs of a phone scam.
And the police are warning people to stay vigilant, Detective Chief Inspector Perry Stokes said: “Always be on your guard if you receive a cold call and are asked for personal or financial information, or to hand over your card or cash to someone.
“The bank or the police will never tell you to take such actions, so if you’re asked it can only be a criminal attack.”