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.

 

 

Handy Hints to Protect Yourself against Fraud

by Rudolf Faix Thursday, November 5, 2015 3:46 PM

Protect yourselfProtect your identity

  • Only give out your personal details and information where it is absolutely necessary and when you trust the person you are speaking to or dealing with.

  • Destroy personal information: don’t just throw it out. You should cut up or shred old bills, statements or cards - for example, credit cards and ATM cards.

  • Treat your personal details like you would treat money: don’t leave them lying around for others to take.

 

Money matters

  • Never send money to anyone that you don’t know and trust.

  • Do not send any money or pay any fee to claim a prize or lottery winnings.

  • "Jobs" asking you to simply use your own bank account to transfer money for somebody could be a front for money-laundering activity. Money laundering is a serious criminal offence.

  • Avoid transferring or wiring any refunds or overpayments back to anyone you do not know.

The face-to-face approach

  • If someone comes to your door, ask to see some identification. You do not have to let them in, and they must leave if you ask them to.

  • Before you decide to pay any money, if you are interested in what a door-to-door salesperson has to offer, take the time to find out about their business and their offer.

  • Contact the Competition Bureau, provincial and territorial consumer affairs offices or the Better Business Bureau of your province or territory if you are unsure about a seller that comes to your door.

 

Telephone business

  • If you receive a phone call from someone you do not know, always ask for the name of the person you are speaking to and who they represent. Verify this information by calling the company yourself.

  • Do not give out your personal, credit card or online account details over the phone unless you made the call and the phone number came from a trusted source.

  • It is best not to respond to text messages or missed calls that come from numbers you do not recognize. Be especially wary of phone numbers beginning with 1-900. These may be charged at a higher rate than other numbers and can be very expensive.

 

Email offers

  • Never reply to a spam email, even to unsubscribe - often, this just serves to "verify" your address to scammers. The best course of action is to delete any suspicious emails without opening them.

  • Turn off the "viewing pane" as just viewing the email may send a verification notice to the sender that yours is a valid email address.

  • Legitimate banks and financial institutions will never ask you for your account details in an email or ask you to click on a link in an email to access your account.

  • Never call a telephone number or trust other contact details that you see in a spam email.

 

Internet Business

  • Install software that protects your computer from viruses and unwanted programs and make sure it is kept current. If you are unsure, seek the help of a computer professional.

  • If you want to access a website, use a bookmarked link to the website or type the address of the website into the browser yourself. Never follow a link in an email.

  • Check website addresses carefully. Scammers often set up fake websites with addresses very similar to legitimate websites.

  • Beware of websites offering "free" downloads (such as music, adult content, games and movies). Downloading these products may install harmful programs onto your computer without you knowing.

  • Avoid clicking on pop-up ads - this could lead to harmful programs being installed on your computer.

  • Never enter your personal, credit card or online account information on a website that you are not sure is genuine.

  • Never send your personal, credit card or online banking details through an email.

  • Avoid using public computers (at libraries or Internet cafes) to do your Internet banking or online shopping.

 

Service Scams

by Rudolf Faix Saturday, July 11, 2015 8:45 AM

Comic: It is 'Common-Wealth'. I am just taking my share.Many people are being targeted by individuals claiming to offer reduced rates or deals for various services.

These scams typically involve individuals that make offers for telecommunications, Internet, finance, medical and energy services. This category of scams may also include offers such as extended warranties, insurance, and door-to-door sales.

The two most reported service scams targeting peoples are the antivirus software scam andcredit card interest rate reduction scams.

The scammers involved in the antivirus software scam promise to repair your computer over the Internet. This can involve the installation of software or permission to have remote access to your computer. Payment for the software or repair is typically made by credit card.

Downloading software from an unknown source or allowing someone to remotely access your computer is risky. Scammers could use malicious software to capture your personal information such as user names and passwords, bank account information, identity information, etc.

Everyone likes to get a deal and scammers know this. The people behind credit card interest rate reduction scams often impersonate financial institutions and claim to negotiate with credit card companies to lower your interest rates. They guarantee they can save you thousands of dollars in interest. The caller will tell you that the lower interest rates are for a limited time only and that you need to act now. 

You might receive an automated call, prompting you to "press 1" and provide personal information, such as your date of birth and credit card number. You will also be asked to pay a fee up front for the service. The scammers will use this information to make purchases on your credit card or to access cash advances.

Protect yourself:

  • Only your service provider can offer you a better rate or price for their services.

  • Be wary of unsolicited calls from people offering a great deal "for a limited time only".

  • Don’t give out your credit card number over the phone unless you made the call and the number came from a trusted source.

  • If a caller claims to represent your bank, telephone your bank to ask whether the offer you received is genuine.

  • Ask yourself if you are putting yourself at risk if you are offering up this information

 

Emergency Scams

by Rudolf Faix Saturday, July 11, 2015 8:25 AM

Emergency help centerEmergency scams targets family members and play upon their emotions to rob them of their money. Scammers have no shame, and scams that target the elderly are the lowest of the low. The "Emergency Scam" (sometimes called the "Grandparent Scam") is not new, but it is increasing in occurrences.

Compromised contact lists from hijacked email accounts have been used to send potential victims an "urgent" email request for money, from a friend or relative with whom they have a correspondence. Common themes continue to be hospitalization or imprisonment while away from home. The friend or relative is unaware that their account has been used to send out these requests to everyone on their contact list.

In the typical scenario of an emergency scam, a family member receives a phone call from a scammer claiming to be one of his or her far relatives. Callers go on to say that they are in some kind of trouble and need money immediately. They claim to have been in a car accident, are having trouble returning from a foreign country or they need bail money.

You may get a call from two people, one pretending to be your family member and the other pretending to be either a police officer or a lawyer. Your "family member" asks you questions during the call, getting you to volunteer personal information.

Callers say that they don’t want other family members to find out what has happened. You will be asked to wire some money through a money transfer company. Often, victims don’t verify the story until after the money has been sent.

In some cases, scammers pretend to be your old neighbour or a friend of the family, but for the most part, the emergency scam is directed at grandparents.

Protect yourself:

  • Scammers are counting on the fact that you will want to act quickly to help your loved ones in an emergency

  • Never send money to anyone you don’t know and trust. Verify the person’s identity before you take any steps to help.

  • Don’t give out any personal information to the caller.

  • Ask the person questions that only your loved one would be able to answer. Call the other family members or friends to verify the story.

  • Ask yourself if the caller’s story make sense?

 

Money Transfer Request Scam

by Rudolf Faix Saturday, July 11, 2015 7:33 AM

dollars in an envelopeMoney transfer scams are on the rise. Be very careful when someone offers you money to help transfer their funds. Once you send money to someone, it can be very difficult, if not impossible, to get it back

The Nigerian scam (also called the 419 fraud) has been on the rise since the early-to-mid 1990s around the world. Although many of these sorts of scams originated in Nigeria, similar scams have been started all over the world (particularly in other parts of West Africa and in Asia). These scams are increasingly referred to as "advance fee fraud".

In the classic Nigerian scam, you receive an email or letter from a scammer asking your help to transfer a large amount of money overseas. You are then offered a share of the money if you agree to give them your bank account details to help with the transfer. They will then ask you to pay all kinds of taxes and fees before you can receive your "reward". You will never be sent any of the money, and will lose the fees you paid.

Then there is the scam email that claims to be from a lawyer or bank representative advising that a long-lost relative of yours has died and left you a huge inheritance. Scammers can tell such genuine sounding stories that you could be tricked into providing personal documents and bank account details so that you can confirm their identity and claim your inheritance. The "inheritance" is likely to be non-existent and, as well as losing any money you might have paid to the scammer in fees and taxes, you could also risk having your identity stolen.

If you or your business is selling products or services online or through newspaper classifieds, you may be targeted by an overpayment scam. In response to your advertisement, you might receive a generous offer from a potential buyer and accept it. You receive payment by cheque or money order, but the amount you receive is more than the agreed price. The buyer may tell you that the overpayment was simply a mistake or they may invent an excuse, such as extra money to cover delivery charges. If you are asked to refund the excess amount by money transfer, be suspicious. The scammer is hoping that you will transfer the refund before you discover that their cheque or money order was counterfeit. You will lose the transferred money as well as the item if you have already sent it.

Protect yourself:

  • If you have been approached by someone asking you to transfer money for them, it is probably a scam.

  • Never send money, or give credit card or online account details to anyone you do not know and trust.

  • Don’t accept a cheque or money order for payment for goods that is more than what you agreed upon. Send it back and ask the buyer to send you payment for the agreed amount before you deliver the goods or services.

  • Ask yourself if it is really safe to transfer money for someone I do not know?

 

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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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