Fraudsters are constantly coming up with new ways to trick victims to part with their cash. Below are four of the most common telephone scams you need to be aware of now.
Many of us will at some time receive a phone call out of the blue from someone promising a great way to make money.
The investment opportunities could be to do with wine, carbon credits or land in Brazil and the caller will try and convince you there’s minimal risk of losing money.
Often the returns will be unbelievable, far more impressive than anything you can get from your bank or even by sticking your money into a few FTSE 100 shares.
But of course, it will all be rubbish. The callers are scammers, trying to get you to sign over your cash into an investment where the only winner will be the scammers.
You’ll either be investing in something that doesn’t exist, or which has a value of a fraction of what you’re paying for it.
One of the most common cold call topics are pensions.
Thanks to the new pension freedoms, over-55s have far more control over what to do with their pension pots. And that presents an opportunity for scammers.
The Information Commissioner’s Office reported receiving more than 1,000 complaints about pension-related cold calls and texts in the month following the new rules.
While the City of London Police estimate that at least £13.3 million was stolen from pension savings in 2015.
If someone calls you out of the blue offering to help you access your pension, particularly if you're not yet 55, it's going to be a scam.
Other scammers will target people over 55 with investment scams like the ones mentioned above in a bid to convince them to invest their pension money in a scam.
Computer help scams
However, not all telephone scams will be about investing or making money. Some will simply try to gain access to your computer to steal your details.
For example, some scammers will call and tell you that you have got a virus on your computer, and that only they can help you remove it.
They’ll pretend to be from Microsoft or some other big name, and talk you into downloading some form of software that allows the caller to access your computer, so that they can ‘remove the virus’.
In other cases, they may request remote access to your computer to help fix an issue and steal personal information stored on there.
Bank account security breach scams
Scammers may also impersonate your bank and try to convince you there’s been a security breach on your account and that needs to be fixed.
Of course, to do that they'll need your account details, including your PIN. But give the details out and your account will be drained.
Or there’s the courier scam. You’ll receive a call, supposedly from the police or your bank, stating that it has seen a fraudulent payment on your card and it needs to be replaced.
A courier will be sent to collect your card and arrange for a new one. By now they have your card, your name and your home address.
Neither a bank nor the police will ever send a courier to your home or ask for your PIN or login details.
Increasingly scammers are using sophisticated techniques like hold music to convince you a call is genuine.