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.

 

Fake online pharmacies

by Rudolf Faix Saturday, July 11, 2015 7:20 AM

drug storePeople have delighted in the true serenity of knowing their physician endorsed solutions are sheltered and successful. Be that as it may, a great deal has changed following the 1980's, including the presentation of the overall web - which has prompted an increment in maverick web drug store locales. Sadly, criminal systems around the globe have turn out to be progressively refined, exploiting a large number of patients around the world by offering shoddy fake medications on Internet locales, a number of which take on the appearance of true blue drug stores and showcase the trusted banner.

Since it is so natural to make a site, there are at present a huge number of these illegitimate locales. The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy has investigated more than 10,000 of them with really terrifying results: Only 3 percent of the destinations give off an impression of being in consistence with drug store laws and practice standards.

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:

  • Avoid sites that are located outside of your country

  • Avoid sites that don’t indicate any physical address

  • Avoid sites that don’t have a license by the relevant government authority

  • Avoid sites without a licensed pharmacist to answer questions

  • Avoid sites that do not require a prescription

  • 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 this is really a miracle cure, wouldn’t my healthcare professional have told me about it?

 

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?

 

Internet Fraud

by Rudolf Faix Saturday, July 11, 2015 2:56 AM

three monkeys: don't see, don't speak, don't hearScammers can use the Internet to promote fraud through unsolicited or junk emails, known as spam and advertisings. Even if they only get a handful of replies from the millions of emails they send out, it is still worth their while. Be wary of replying, even just to "unsubscribe", because that will give a scammer confirmation that they have reached a real email address. Any email you receive that comes from a sender you do not know, is not specifically addressed to you, and promises you some benefit is likely to be spam.

Malicious software - also referred to as malware, spyware, key loggers, trojan horses or trojans - poses online security threats. Scammers try to install this software on your computer so that they can gain access to files stored on your computer and other personal details and passwords.

Phishing scams are all about tricking you into handing over your personal and banking details to scammers. The emails you receive might look and sound legitimate but in reality genuine organizations like a bank or a government authority will never expect you to send your personal information by an email or online.

Scammers use a wide range of tricks to get their software onto your computer. They may trick you into clicking on a link or pop-up message in a spam email, or by getting you to visit a fake website set up solely to infect people’s computers.

Scammers can easily copy the logo or even the entire website of a genuine organization. So don’t just assume an email you receive is legitimate. If the email is asking you to visit a website to "update", "validate" or "confirm" your account information, be sceptical.

Delete phishing emails. They can carry viruses that can infect your computer. Do not open any attachments or follow any links in phishing emails.

Online auctions and Internet shopping can be a lot of fun and can also help you find good deals. Unfortunately, they also attract scammers.

Scammers will often try to get you to deal outside of online auction sites. They may claim the winner of an auction that you were bidding on has pulled out and offer the item to you. Once you have paid, you will never hear from them again and the auction site will not be able to help you.

Listed below are tips to protect yourself and your family from various forms of Internet fraud:

  • If you choose to shop online or participate in online auctions, make sure you know about refund policies and dispute-handling processes, and be careful that you are not overcharged. Also, you may want to use an escrow service, such as PayPal. This service will hold your payment and only release it to the seller once you have confirmed that you received what you paid for. There is usually a small fee for this service. A legitimate bank or financial institution will never ask you to click on a link in an email or send your account details through an email or website.

  • Never buy from bidders with poor ratings on auction sites, and do your best to ensure that you are only making purchases from genuine shopping sites. Never provide your personal, credit card or account information unless you are certain the site is genuine.

  • Don’t reply to spam emails, even to unsubscribe, and do not click on any links or call any telephone number listed in a spam email. Make sure you have current protective software or get advice from a computer specialist.

  • If an email or pop-up offers you a product or service that genuinely interests you and it seems reasonable, be sure that you understand all the terms and conditions and costs involved before making a purchase or providing your details.

  • Ask yourself: By opening this suspect email, will I risk the security of my computer? Are the contact details provided in the email correct? Telephone your bank or financial institution to ask whether the email you received is genuine.

 

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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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