Concerns continue to grow over the dramatic rise in scam phone calls across the UK, as the Money Advice Service (MAS) revealed this month that around eight are placed every second – and that it is becoming so commonplace, that “the majority of UK consumers have been targeted”.
According to the consumer champion, over six in ten people (63%) have received a suspicious call, scam phone call, over the last year, and nearly half (43%) have been targeted in September alone. The conversations tend to follow the same format, where callers try to trick victims into moving money directly into criminals’ accounts or even go so far as to hand over bankcards, PIN numbers and personal details over the phone.
Scam phone calls what to look for?
To add credibility to their scams, criminals are impersonating well-known organisations, from banks and software companies to the police. Perhaps most worrying was the fact that 6% of people reported that the call came from the same number as the company they were impersonating. This process, known as telephone spoofing, is perhaps one of the most dangerous forms of scamming over the phone.
However, there is still a culture of cynicism among British citizens on the wrong end of spoof calls. Among those that took a call of this nature since 2010, 93% – equivalent to 47 million people across the country – hung up after an average of 46 seconds. However, it isn’t all good news; nearly one in ten (7%) fell victim, effectively meaning 3.5 million were scammed over the last five years.
Nick Hill, a money expert at the MAS, said: “Consumers can protect themselves by being on guard. If you receive a call out of the blue and are asked for personal information play it safe and hang up. It is better to hang up on a genuine call and do your research than to risk your personal details and lose your money to a scam.”
His tips for scam phone calls were simple:
- If in doubt, hang up on the caller;
- If you think you should call back, wait ten minutes and ring an official number;
- Under no circumstances should you pass on your personal details, or transfer any money to someone who has “called you out of the blue”.