Five tips to beat phone scammers

22 December 2014

Five tips to ensure you don’t lose out to phone scammers.

Credit card safety tips...

Millions of people in Britain have received phone calls from conmen trying to persuade us to reveal banking details in the past year. Financial Fraud Action UK says that the amount of money stolen in this type of phone scam has trebled to almost £24 million a year.

How do these phone scams work?

The most common type of phone scam involves a caller pretending to be from your bank with some important news, and asking you to confirm some security details at the start of the conversation.

Their aim is to get hold of online banking passwords and PIN numbers, as well as account details and personal information such as your address and surname.

Other cons can be more sophisticated: in some cases, conmen encourage victims to hang up and dial their bank direct. But by staying on the line, they can intercept the follow-up call and pretend to be bank staff.

Microsoft says it is suing criminals who phone computer owners claiming to work for the company.

They ask for the victims’ permission to take over the computers remotely to fix non-existent faults and secretly install viruses. The criminals then demand cash to remove them.

How can you protect yourself? Here are five tips to ensure you don’t lose out to phone scammers:

1. Don’t give out passwords or PIN numbers over the phone. Your bank would never ask for them.

2. Your bank would also never ask you to hand over your card to a courier – this is another common scam, so don’t fall for it.

3. If you think your bank genuinely wants to speak to you, call it directly using a publicly available number – either one given on your statements or one on the bank’s website.

4. Bear in mind that, if you hang up your home phone but the person you were talking to does not, they can stay on the line and intercept your next outgoing call.

To check this isn’t happening, phone a friend or relative before calling the bank. Alternatively, use a different phone – a mobile, for example.

5. If you get an unexpected call from a computer support worker, ask if there is a fee for their services: if the answer is yes, hang up.


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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.