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Review: Should I Answer

www.shouldianswer.com is a website about cold callers and fraudsters. There is a Should I Answer APP which warns you against all kinds of unwanted calls and can block callers if you choose.

These were created by Mister Group ltd who explain their mission to be:

“We have gained the first experience on our own few years ago. Our friends and people around us started to be bothered by telemarketing calls, which were rapidly raising in our country those days. Some of our friends even lost their money because of these telemarketing scams! So we decided to do something about it – and that’s the story about how the Should I Answer APP was born.”

“Our goal is to make our smart devices friendlier to regular users, so they should serve exactly the purpose the users want them to – not to the purpose the other dark side tries to force us. Telemarketing, number spoofing, unsolicited calls… all such activities are in our radar, and we try every day with all the possible powers to make them behave within legal boundaries.”

How It Works

The Should I Answer APP uses a huge database of spam and telemarketing calls from numbers reported to Do Not Call Registry, numbers reported to Federal Communication Commission and of all the community reviews at Should I Answer.

How is The Service Paid For?

Should I Answer say they try to keep as much of the project for free as possible. Plus, there are adverts on screen and donations.

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The National Crime Agency Scam

The job of the National Crime Agency (NCA) is described as leading the fight against organised crime; human, weapon and drug trafficking; cyber crime and economic crime that goes across regional and international borders.

However, criminals are posing as National Crime Agency officers over the phone in an attempt to con people and steal from them.

The scammers target the elderly and some victims have lost their life savings.

The NCA has so far recorded hundreds of  reports of scammers claiming to be NCA officers and they often give a bogus NCA identity number.

The criminals warn victims about a banking scam and persuade them to allow remote access to their computers, or to hand over personal information and bank details.

Sometimes they ask their targets to move the money to a “safe” bank account.

One case involved a 70-year-old man from London who transferred his life savings of £350,000 out of his account after scammers pretended to be NCA officers and staff from an IT security company. The victim allowed the men remote access to his computer after they said he had been hacked and needed to move his money to safe account.

Members of the public should be aware that an NCA officer will NEVER:

  • Ask for remote access to your computer via phone, email or online
  • Ask you to verify personal details such as passwords, account numbers or card details via phone, email or online
  • Ask you to transfer or hand over money via phone, email or online
  • Threaten you into providing this information

If you have any experiences with these scams do let me know, by email.

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Have Fun With Cold Callers

 

Rather than just getting angry or slamming the phone down, you can have fun at the cold caller’s expense.

The Quick Put-Off

If you’re in a hurry or just cannot be bothered with cold callers, then try one of these opening lines and you probably wont need to say anything else as the caller is likely to give up.

“Hampshire Constabulary Incident Room, Detective Inspector Jones speaking,”

“Surbiton Pizza Hut, is your order for collection or delivery?” (in the typical teenage tone).

“Cyber and Communications Crime Unit,”

“PPI Compensation Hotline, let’s start with you telling me your full name and address” (get them with their own game – PPI is long gone but who cares)

“Thank you for calling ‘The Smithson Clinic’. To book an appointment, press 1.” (followed by a long list of different fake options).

The Longer Game

Remember – they phoned you to waste your time, so why not waste theirs?

You can keep the caller busy with pointless questions and responses till they eventually get fed up and give up. Give these approaches a try:

  • Pretend you can’t hear very well and make them repeat each statement multiple times
  • Pretend to be stupid and misunderstand everything they say
  • Repeat back to them each thing they say, but slowly
  • Ask their opinion on any soap opera or reality TV series that you watch then regale them with how wonderful the programme is
  • Pretend to cry – tell them you’ve broken up with your true love and are heart broken (good for any budding actors) and pour out any anger you’re feeling.
  • Pretend you know the caller and invent a whole back story for last time you saw them and refuse to accept that they don’t know you

Any of these tricks are likely to have the caller put down the phone but it depends how well you play your part. So, enjoy yourself, be creative and waste their time.

If you have any experiences with these scams do let me know, by email.

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The Banks and Push Payment Scams

There has been a huge increase in Authorised Push Payment (APP) scams through mobile or online banking.

This is where a scammer convinces someone to transfer money to the scammers account – usually by pretending to be a bank employee or Police officer.

Previously, the banks used to treat victims of these scams as being to blame and therefore having to take the financial loss themselves.

Then, some time ago, the largest banks and building societies signed up to a new voluntary code that sets standards for how they should treat victims of APP scams.

However, Which? has raised concerns about the way banks interpret the new code and how in some cases they are trying to shift the blame back onto customers.

e.g. The case of Miss P.

A caller to Miss P. told her that she had won a loyalty bonus worth £35 off her next BT bill and quoted the full details of her bank card as well as her full name and address ‘to confirm her eligibility’. Although she shared no sensitive data over the phone, this laid the groundwork for the second stage of the scam.

A few days later, she received a call from the ‘National Crime Agency’ warning her that £400 had been taken from her account due to a series of scams involving BT and complicit banks. The caller explained that the authorities knew she had been targeted only days before by a caller pretending to be from BT.

They then asked her to help with their investigation into her local bank branch, by moving her money to a ‘safe account’. She agreed and, as instructed, printed off an email that appeared to confirm the opening of this safe account – with Clydesdale Bank – in her name. In reality, this account was controlled by the criminals.

Miss P then visited her nearest branch to transfer £30,000 from her account, telling them that she wanted to move the money so that her savings weren’t all in one place, as she was coached to say.

Lloyds says staff followed the correct procedures, as per the Banking Protocol – a rapid response scheme through which branch staff can alert police and Trading Standards to suspected frauds.

Nothing gave the bank cause for concern. However, Miss P says no concerns were raised or questions asked. It was only the following day when she attempted to move more money from her account, that staff blocked the payment and became concerned about a potential scam.

Lloyds initially refused a refund because ‘she didn’t take steps to verify the identity of the cold caller’.

Under the APP code, banks and their customers must take steps to prevent APP fraud, but if both parties have met the standards set out in the code, there is a ‘no-blame fund’ that banks can use to reimburse innocent victims.

The code also states that firms should provide a greater level of protection for customers who are considered vulnerable to APP scams and these customers should be reimbursed regardless.

Lloyds has since decided to reimburse the full amount.

It is best to take care before instructions from anyone on the phone, even if they do know some of your financial details. Always verify who is calling you by checking with their company at a phone number you find independently.

If you have any experiences with phishing scams do let me know, by email.

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