Nuisance Calls and Scams

by Rudolf Faix Sunday, November 8, 2015 4:39 AM

PhoneWhile not all nuisance calls are scams or associated with fraud, many are. There are several types of scams or fraudulent calls you might receive on your phone. These include:

  • Caller ID Spoofing
    At this kind of call the caller changes the number from which he is calling you. Normally, if someone calls you the device captures and shows you the phone number of the caller. But, scammers try to fool you by changing the number that you see on your phone.

    Those that try to scam you often pretend to be a reputable company or perhaps a company or organization that you already trust, like your bank. They are doing this to steal your personal information and possibly try to gain access to your bank account or other financial accounts. Alternatively, they may be looking for personally identifiable information for stealing your identity.

    When such scammers are calling you, they may even say that they’re from your financial institution and that they need to collect or verify some of your information. They may claim this is part of a security check or that your personal information may have been compromised. Don’t give them any information over the phone. Your bank, brokerage firm or other financial institutions will not call you and ask you for about your personal information like your bank account number.

    Never rely on the caller ID alone to determine whether the person is really from the organisation he claims to be. If you suspect the person might be trying to defraud you or if you can’t verify that the person called you is from your bank/financial institution, hang up, notify your bank/financial institution or the police.

    Before you dial out to another number be sure that the previous call has been terminated. If you are unsure about this take another phone for your next dial out. If the scammer did not clear the line by hanging up, then there is a chance that when you attempt to make the next call and you end up by talking to the scammer again. For the case that they called you at your fixed line, they may even are able to play a ringtone to make it sound like you are making a dial while they are waiting patiently and silently on the other side. So make sure your line is clear when calling your financial institution to verify the call, that way, you do not accidentally reconnect with the fraudster or an accomplice. Use always phone numbers that have been provided to you by the companies you deal with and not a phone number told you over the phone.

  • Spam Texts
    Spam text messaging occurs when a company or organization sends you an unwanted text message alerting you about something or sending you an offer.

    In general, it’s illegal for anyone or any company to send you spam texts unless you’ve already asked them to send you text messages. If you’ve given to a business the permission to text you, however, that company can continue to send you texts for other services, but it must offer you the option to opt out.

  • Overt Abusive Calls
    When someone rings you at your fixed line and is abusive, whether it’s a stranger, a company you’re doing business with, or some other organization, you should immediately call your phone company and ask to speak with their nuisance or malicious calls team. Notify them of the problem, and they may offer you anonymous call blocking.

    At mobile phones are you normally able to setup anonymous call blocking and blocking of single phone numbers by yourself. Consult the instruction manual of your mobile phone for more information how to block phone numbers and anonymous calls.

    But, be aware that the service can also block legitimate calls you receive. For example, if you receive regular phone calls from family or friends out of the country, anonymous call blocking might block these calls. If you opt for the service, you will also have to coordinate with your friends or family to make sure important calls get through or you may have to ring them yourself.

  • Unsolicited Calls
    Calls you receive that you did not ask for and do not want

    Unsolicited calls are often marketing-related. A company or organization gets your phone number and starts calling you offering you products or services. Normally, a business must have your permission to ring you for an offer, but many businesses skirt these rules or find creative ways to get you to agree to have them ring you for offers.

    For example, if you sign up for, or purchase, anything online, you may be unknowingly agreeing to receive phone calls from solicitors.

    Sometimes, these calls are automated. So-called “robo-callers” or automated calling systems will ring you on a preset schedule. Sometimes, the solicitors are calling about donations to a charity. Other times, they are calling to sell you debt management services or legal services for personal injury claims. Still other times they are calling to sell you products over the phone.

    Marketing agencies and organizations making such calls must have your permission to call you, but if you’ve checked off any boxes online while filling out a form, or while making a purchase, or agreed to terms of service which allowed a business to sell your personal information, you may have already given permission accidentally.

    You may also get caught by something called “Automatic Number Identification” or ANI. These systems don’t get your permission explicitly, but rather implicitly. Once you dial out, it’s done. The organization captures your number and sells it to other companies who then call you.

    The best way to protect yourself is to not sign up for anything online, through the mail, and resist giving out your phone number unless you know who you’re giving it to and you can be assured that your information won’t be sold to anyone else.

    If you’re already on a list, call the Telephone Preference Service and ask to be opted out of receiving calls.

  • Abandoned or Silent Calls
    Calls that are silent (you see them as missed calls) or are disconnected when you answer

People Who Are Most At Risk For Nuisance Calls

The Elderly

While anyone can be the victim of a nuisance call, some groups of people are especially vulnerable. For example, the elderly and single parents may receive an unusually high number of nuisance calls relative to the general population.

In fact, it is estimated that while the average UK resident receives 7 nuisance calls a month, 40% of the phone calls that older and vulnerable residents of Scotland receive are nuisance  calls.

These statistics were discovered by Angus Council, East Dunbartonshire and East Renfrewshire, three of the country’s trading standards authorities.

Additionally, the The Financial Ombudsman Service found that roughly 80% of individuals who were scammed out of their savings were over 55. About one in five was over 75.

About 38% of victims lost anywhere between £5,000 and £14,999, with 20% of victims losing between £20,000 and £49,999. Some unfortunate victims lost more than £100,000. The most at-risk areas include London and the South East.

The elderly are especially vulnerable to these nuisance calls. Malicious individuals or organisations often prey on them, attempting to get personal information or have the senior hand over his or her life savings.

Some firms try to entice elderly victims with prize winnings or send begging letters. Of course, there is no prize waiting for the victim.

Another scam promises the victim lottery winnings, usually from outside the state or country. And, the senior doesn’t even have to enter. In fact, these organisations contact victims, telling them that their name was drawn at random and they’ve won. Incredible! They didn’t even enter any contest.

The only stipulation is that the elderly victim pay some fee or administrative cost before the money is released. Elderly people tend to be inherently trusting, and so they hand over the cash, but never receive the prize winnings.

Yet another scam involves unlicensed financial advisors who attempt to sell seniors unregulated investments which may jeopardise their life savings. While the recent banning of commissions has eliminated many commission-driven fraudsters, the practice of cashing in a pension pot is still a problem for many.

Fortunately, up to 98% of these nuisance calls can be blocked using special call-blocking technology.

Single Parents

Single parents might also be a victim of nuisance calls, especially when there are children involved. An ex-partner may be jealous or feel that the relationship ended badly, and may call directly or put someone else up to ringing their spouse or ex-partner’s line repeatedly.

Vulnerable individuals need to report all fraudulent activity to the authorities, like Ofcom, immediately. If you suspect you have been, or are about to be, a victim of a crime, call the local police.

Blocking Calls Using Apps

Truecaller is an app for iOS devices that helps you peek behind the curtain of a phone number to learn who’s really behind the call. Get enhanced call ID information, search for any number to see who it belongs to, and link directly to Yelp! and other social networks to find the identity of the organisation making the call.

This app makes blocking spam and scammers much easier.

As with iPhone, Truecaller for Android can help you block unwanted calls on your Droid. Install the app and use it as you would on iPhone.

Best Practices For Staying Safe

Of course, beyond the apps and settings on your phone, there are some best practices you can employ to avoid being scammed or bothered by unwanted calls:

Stop signing up for free offers

Free offers are almost never free. When you tick off a box that says you agree to the terms and conditions, read them. Often, part of those terms includes a provision that lets the company sell your personal information. If you agree to these terms, you may start receiving phone calls which you believe are unsolicited.
Unfortunately, because you’ve agreed to terms and conditions which allow for this, there is usually no recourse other than asking to be removed from the organisation’s call list.

Resist paid offers unless you know and trust the business

Think before you buy into another service, even if it’s a contract renewal. Mobile phone renewals, for example, could trigger an avalanche of follow-up calls, asking you to sign up for additional services or buy additional products from the carrier or a dealer.

These calls can turn into nuisance calls that you can’t easily stop because you’ve already done business with the company and agreed to receive calls from them.

When a business asks you for your contact information before, during, or after a sale, resist it. Most businesses want your number so that they can call you in the future with offers. Unless you want sales calls in the future from a company, just politely decline. If the business or organisation insists, remind them that you are already doing business with them. If they refuse business unless you hand over your contact information, it may be a good idea to do business with someone else.

Don’t agree to anything over the phone if you’re unsure about the caller

Sometimes, it’s difficult to say “no” to someone over the phone, especially if they’re nice and polite. However, if you do not know the individual, your best response usually is “no.”

Do not give out your credit card numbers, don’t agree to switch utility providers, even if they promise you a lower tariff (always check with your provider first about your rates vs a competitors’). And, don’t assume a friendly inquiry or marketing survey is always innocent. Often, these calls are designed to trick you into buying something you don’t really want.

Do not use your real number

If you do have to sign up for a service, or you’re buying a product online, sign up for a Google number through Google Voice. This service lets you create a fictitious number which can be easily changed so you’re not giving out your real number. And, it’s easy to set up:

  • Go to the Google Voice website and sign in with your Google Account login information

  • Choose a Google Voice Account type

  • Select “I want a new number”
  • Enter a forwarding number and the type of phone you have. This is the phone that will ring when someone rings this new Google number. You can add more phones to this number later if you want

  • Take down the code presented to you and click “Call Me Now” to verify your forwarding phone

  • Enter the code you received previously into the box on the screen

  • Search for an available Google Voice Number. You may search by area code, post code, word or phrase

  • Select your number

That’s it. Your new number is now active. When you sign up for services, simply give organisations and businesses your Google number. When they ring it, it will forward the call to your real number.

If you start having problems with nuisance calls, simply get rid of the Google number and get another one. This effectively sets up a shield between you and the would-be nuisance caller.

Add your name to the 'do-not-call' list

The Telephone Preference Service lets you opt out of receiving calls from solicitors. While many individuals are familiar with this service for landlines, TPS will accept mobile phone numbers as well. It’s a good first line of defense.

It will not stop charity organisations, however, and some calls may get through if they are not considered telemarketing calls. These calls may still be considered nuisance calls. However, you should see a dramatic reduction in the number of them.

 

 

What To Do If You Got Scammed?

by Rudolf Faix Friday, November 6, 2015 12:41 AM

Mouse Trap - scammedAuthorities may not always be able to take action against scams, even if it seems like a scammer might have broken the law. Although it may be hard to recover any money that you have lost to a scam, there are steps you can take to reduce the damage and avoid becoming a target for a follow-up scam. The more quickly you act, as larger is your chance of reducing your losses. Report a scam. By reporting the scam to authorities, they may be able to warn other people about the scam and minimize the chances of the scam spreading further. You should also warn your friends and family of any scams that you come across.

If you have been tricked into signing a contract or buying a product or service

Contact your provincial or territorial consumer affairs office and consider getting independent advice to examine your options: there may be a cooling-off period or you may be able to negotiate a refund.

If you think someone has gained access to your online account, telephone banking account or credit card details

Call your financial institution immediately so they can suspend your account and limit the amount of money you lose. Credit card companies may also be able to perform a "charge back" (reverse the transaction) if they believe that your credit card was billed fraudulently. Do not use contact details that appear in emails or on websites that you are suspicious of - they will probably be fake and lead you to a scammer. You can find legitimate contact details in the phone book, an account statement or on the back of your ATM card. 

If the scam relates to your health

Stop taking any pills or substances that you are not sure about. See a doctor or other qualified medical professional as soon as you can. Be sure to tell them about the treatment that the scammer sold (take along any substances, including their packaging). Also tell them if you have stopped any treatment that you were taking before the scam.

If you have sent money to someone that you think may be a scammer

If you sent your credit card details, follow the instructions in the section opposite.

If you sent money through an electronic funds transfer (over the Internet), contact your financial institution immediately. If they have not already processed the transfer, they may be able to cancel it.

If you sent a cheque, contact your financial institution immediately. If the scammer hasn’t already cashed your cheque, they may be able to cancel it.

If you sent money through a wire service (such as Western Union or Money Gram), contact the wire service immediately.

If you are very quick, they may be able to stop the transfer.

If you have been tricked by a door-to-door seller

You may be protected by laws that provide you with a "cooling-off" period, during which you can cancel an agreement or contract that you signed. Contact your provincial or territorial consumer affairs office for advice about door-to-door sales laws.

If you have been scammed using your computer

If you were using your computer when you got scammed, it is possible that a virus or other malicious software is still on your computer. Run a full system check using reliable security software.

If you do not have security software (such as virus scanners and a firewall) installed on your computer, a computer professional can help you choose what you need.

Scammers may have also gained access to your online passwords. Change these using a secure computer.

If the scam involves your mobile phone

Call your telephone provider and let them know what has happened.

 

Cooling-off Period

by Rudolf Faix Thursday, November 5, 2015 11:32 PM

JudgeIn consumer rights legislation and practice, a cooling-off period is a period of time following a purchase when the purchaser may choose to cancel a purchase and return goods which have been supplied for any reason and obtain a full refund.

In addition, legislation exists in various parts of the world enforcing this right, to varying degrees. For example, in the European Union, the Consumer Rights Directive of 2011 obliges member states to give purchasers the right to return goods or cancel services purchased from a business away from a normal commercial premises, such as online, mail order, or door-to-door, with limited exceptions, within two weeks from the receipt of the goods, for a full refund

Each country has its own rules for the cooling-off period. Here are only listed the most important rules. Please visit the provided link to read all the rules.

 

Australia

Source: Australian Competition and Consumer Commission

Telemarketers are not allowed to call consumers:

  • on Sundays or public holidays
  • before 9am or after 8pm on weekdays
  • before 9am or after 5pm on Saturdays

 

Cancellation rights (cooling-off):

  • The salesperson must tell to the consumer about his cooling off rights. The consumer can change his mind and cancel the contract for any reason without penalty within 10 business days

  • If the consumer bought goods that cost $500 or less, the salesperson can supply these goods immediately during the cooling-off period but the consumer still have the right to cancel the contract

  • The salesperson cannot take payment during the cooling-off period for any goods or services and cannot supply any services.

  • The consumer has 10 business days to cool-off or cancel the agreement, starting the first business day after receiving the agreement document.

  • The consumer can terminate the agreement verbally or in writing any time during the cooling-off period. Written termination can be delivered personally, sent via post, emailed or sent via fax. The agreement will be cancelled from the day you give notice

  • The trader must promptly return or refund any money paid under the agreement or a related contract

  • Even if the consumer has partially or completely used the goods supplied by the salesperson under the agreement he still has cooling-off rights during the specified period

  • The salesperson must not try to convince the consumer to waive your rights to cool off.

Canada

Source: Office of Consumer Affairs (OCA)

In some provinces and territories, there is an automatic cancellation (or cooling-off) period for certain types of contracts. Examples include contracts for services such as credit, dating clubs, health clubs, funeral and cemetery services, time-shares, condominiums, natural gas, electricity and door-to-doorsales. The cooling-off period is valid whether the company tells you about it or not.

To find out more about the cooling-off period in your area contact Your Provincial or Territorial Consumer Affairs Office.

 

New Zealand

Source: Consumer. now you know

Every agreement for an uninvited direct sale must be in writing and expressed in plain language. You must be given a copy of the agreement either at the time you sign, or if the agreement is made over the phone within 5 working days.

The agreement must:
  • clearly describe the goods or services being supplied

  • show the total price payable and any other consideration to be given (or how this is calculated if it’s uncertain at the time you sign)

  • inform you of your right to cancel

  • list the trader’s name, street address, phone number and email, and your name and street address

  • show the date it was signed.

If the trader fails to give you this information, the agreement can’t be enforced (except if the failure is minor and has not materially disadvantaged you).

 

United Kingdom

Source: Which? Consumer Rights

At a distance or face-to-face off-premises the following key information has to be given:
  • a description of the goods or service, including how long any commitment will last on the part of the consumer 

  • the total price of the goods or service, or the manner in which the price will be calculated if this can’t be determined

  • cost of delivery and details of who pays for the cost of returning items if you have a right to cancel and change your mind

  • details of any right to cancel - the trader also needs to provide, or make available, a standard cancellation form to make cancelling easy (although you aren’t under any obligation to use it)

  • information about the seller, including their geographical address and phone number

  • information on the compatibility of digital content with hardware and other software is also part of the information traders are obliged to provide  

  • Your right to cancel an order starts the moment you place your order and ends 14 days from the day you receive it

  • Your right to cancel a service starts the moment you enter into the contract and lasts 14 days

  • If you want to download digital content within the 14 day cancellation period you must agree to waive your cancellation rights 

  • Companies are not allowed to charge you for items they put in your online shopping basket or that you have bought as a result of a pre-ticked box

 

United States of America

Source: Federal Trade Commission

FTC Approves Changes to Cooling-Off Rule:

The FTC has approved a final amendment to its Cooling-Off Rule, increasing the exclusionary limit for certain “door-to-door” sales. The Cooling-Off Rule previously provided that it is unfair and deceptive for sellers engaged in “door-to-door” sales valued at more than $25 to fail to provide consumers with disclosures regarding their right to cancel the sales contract within three business days of the transaction. Under the amended rule, the definition of “door-to-door sales” distinguishes between sales at a buyer’s residence and those at other locations. The revised definition retains coverage for sales made at a buyer’s residence at a purchase price of $25 or more, and it increases the purchase price to $130 or more for all other covered sales at temporary locations. The revised definition recognizes that concern regarding high-pressure sales tactics and deception during in-home solicitations is greater than when sales are made away from consumers’ homes. Therefore, the Commission concluded that raising the value to $130 for non-home sales would reduce compliance burdens for sellers while still protecting consumers.

Full telemarketing rules: https://www.ftc.gov/tips-advice/business-center/guidance/complying-telemarketing-sales-rule#refund

 

Health and Medical Scams

by Rudolf Faix Saturday, July 11, 2015 5:38 AM

Drug: Miracle CureMedical scams prey on human suffering. They offer solutions where none exist or promise to simplify complex health treatments.

Miracle cure scams offer a range of products and services that can appear to be legitimate alternative medicines, usually promising quick and effective remedies for serious medical conditions. The treatments claim to be effective against a very wide range of ailments and are often promoted using testimonials from people who have used the product or service and have been "cured".

Weight loss scams promise dramatic weight loss with little or no effort. This type of scam may involve an unusual or restrictive diet, revolutionary exercise or "fat-busting" devices, or breakthrough products such as pills, patches or creams. The products are promoted with the use of false claims such as "lose 10 kilos in 10 days" or "lose weight while you sleep", and often require large advance payments or that you enter into a long-term contract to participate in the program.

Fake online pharmacies use the Internet and spam emails to offer drugs and medicine at very cheap prices and/or without the need for a prescription from a doctor. If you use such a service and you actually do receive the products in response to your order, there is no guarantee that they are the real thing.

There are legitimate online pharmacies. These businesses will have their full contact details listed on their website and will also require a valid prescription before they send out any medicine that requires one

Protect yourself:

  • There are no magic pills, miracle cures or safe options for serious medical conditions or rapid weight loss.

  • Never commit to anything under pressure.

  • Don’t trust an unsubstantiated claim about medicines, supplements or other treatments. Consult your healthcare professional.

  • Check for published medical and research papers to verify the accuracy of the claims made by the promoters.

  • Ask yourself if there is really a miracle cure available, wouldn’t my healthcare professional have told me about it?

 

Funeral and Cemetery Fraud

by Rudolf Faix Friday, July 10, 2015 4:33 PM

CemeteryWith a normal expense of more than $5,000, funerals are likewise costly - and arranging one is a prime time to get covered in extortion.

Here are three approaches to maintain a strategic distance from the most well-known ploys.

  1. Demand the "rundowns"
    At introductory contact, government law obliges that memorial service homes give you three evaluating records: one for all merchandise and administrations offered, another for coffins and a third for grave liners or "external internment holders."

    This supposed Funeral Rule additionally restricts burial service homes from obliging administrations that must be discretionary by law, (for example, preserving), or demanding that coffins and different things be straightforwardly acquired from them as a state of giving commemoration administrations. Nor would you be able to be charged additional for administrations on the off chance that you decide to purchase the coffin somewhere else, a typical approach to spare cash.

  2. Prepaying? Utilization alert
    Long-range making arrangements for a burial service is constantly shrewd. Before there's a prompt need, your family - or even you - can examination shop with evaluating records close by and guarantee that courses of action are made precisely as sought. Yet, you can confront genuine hazard in prepaying for a memorial service, which you may do to lessen the monetary weight on your survivors or, as permitted in numerous states, to decrease your benefits so you can meet all requirements.

    Consider a late FBI bust of a prepaid memorial service conspire in which in the range of 97,000 individuals in 16 states lost more than $450 million in burial service products and administrations that were paid for ahead of time however never gave. Furthermore, there are unquestionably different situations where new proprietors purchase a burial service home and afterward keep running off with the cash.

  3. Be careful with fake welcomes
    In numerous plans, burial service homes cheat you. Yet, another sort includes criminals taking your personality.

    As of late, outside based cybercrooks have been messaging fake burial service notices. Bearing the stolen name and logo of a true blue burial service home, it has all the earmarks of being a welcome to a memorial service or recognition administration for an anonymous companion or associate.

    By tapping on a connection or opening a connection, you can as far as anyone knows get subtle elements. Be that as it may, when you do, malware is unleashed on your PC to take records, passwords and other delicate data. Headlines are regularly "burial service notice" or "going of your companion." Don't take the goad! Authentic burial service warnings incorporate the name of the deceased.

Tips for Avoiding Funeral and Cemetery Fraud:

  • Be an informed consumer. Take time to call and shop around before making a purchase. Take a friend with you who may offer some perspective to help make difficult decisions. Funeral homes are required to provide detailed general price lists over the telephone or in writing.

  • Educate yourself fully about caskets before you buy one, and understand that caskets are not required for direct cremations.

  • Understand the difference between funeral home basic fees for professional services and any fees for additional services.

  • Know that embalming rules are governed by state law and that embalming is not legally required for direct cremations.

  • Carefully read all contracts and purchasing agreements before signing and make certain that all of your requirements have been put in writing.

  • Make sure you understand all contract cancellation and refund terms, as well as your portability options for transferring your contract to other funeral homes.

  • Before you consider prepaying, make sure you are well informed. When you do make a plan for yourself, share your specific wishes with those close to you.

  • As a general rule governing all of your interactions as a consumer, do not allow yourself to be pressured into making purchases, signing contracts, or committing funds. These decisions are yours and yours alone.

 

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AboutMe

I'm since more then 35 years in the computer business (programming and technical support) and using the Internet since it has started. Since 2002 I'm programming solutions for Asterisk and since 2004 I'm in the call center industry.

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