Category: Cold Calls

Dealing with telephone cold callers

Barclays Caller ID Service

Barclays has launched a new caller ID service to fight scams in mid phone call.

The new feature is on its app and website and it lets customers check whether callers claiming to be from the bank are genuine – while they are on the phone.

The caller identification service is designed to fight impersonation scams, where fraudsters pretend to be phoning from organisations such as banks to trick victims into transferring money or personal details.

Some scammers are even able to spoof numbers to make it look like they’re calling from a legitimate organisation – but this new feature will confirm whether an incoming call is from a genuine Barclays’ employee.

At the moment, the feature is only available to Barclays Premier customers – who must have £100,000 saved or invested with the bank, or pay in an annual salary of at least £75,000 – but Barclays says it will be rolled out to all customers “over the coming months”.

How Does Caller ID Work?

Eligible customers will be able to use the feature on the Barclays APP. It is also available in online banking when using a browser on your phone.

If you’re unsure if the call is from Barclays, it will check if you have the Barclays app or are registered for online banking.

If you are, Barclays will offer the verification service and send you a notification.

You then log in to either your Barclays app or online banking and open your notification. This confirms the caller’s name and asks if you’d like to continue with the call.

Barclays checks the response and you then complete the typical identification checks and the call continues as usual.

If you have any experiences with scammers, spammers or time-waster do let me know, by email.

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Cold Callers Selling Call Blockers

Elderly homeowners are being targeted by cold callers selling expensive gadgets that supposedly block cold callers.

Sometimes the scammers have no product and the whole thing is just a con to get the victim’s credit card details but there appear to be several companies actually selling products they claim can block cold callers.

But, they are contacting people registered on the Telephone Preference Service who should not be called so they are operating illegally. These companies sell expensive products that turn out to be cheap and ineffective – either stopping all calls or are incompatible with most people’s home phones or are too complicated for the end user to understand.

One such company was Telecom Protection Service which was stopped in 2017 after being found guilty of defrauding hundreds of people. Also, a company named  IT Protect Ltd was fined £400,000 for cold calling to sell call blockers more recently.

Other companies have since sprung up to continue this scam.

If you want a call blocking service, first try your phone provider as most have call blocking feature available and quite often these are free or at a modest charge.

If you do want or need a gadget to plug into your phone line for blocking callers then research what’s available and pick one that is recommended by experts and by its customers. Do not ever respond to cold callers trying to sell anything as it will never be value for money.

If you have any experiences with cold callers do let me know, by email.

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U.S. Breaks Indian Scam Call Centre

U.S. authorities have sentenced 21 people in connection with an India-based call centre scam that cost Americans hundreds of millions of dollars.

Defendants were given sentences of up to 20 years in prison, in what U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions called “the first-ever large-scale, multi-jurisdiction prosecution targeting the India call centre scam industry.”

According to the U.S. Justice Department, the sophisticated operation revolved around call centres in Ahmedabad, India, from where individuals called American citizens while posing as officials with Internal Revenue Services or U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Victims were told that they owed the government money, and were threatened with arrest, imprisonment, fines and deportation if they didn’t pay up. Those who gave in to the scam were made to pay using wire transfers, direct bank deposits or iTunes and other gift cards.

Once payment was received, the scammers contacted a network of runners in the U.S. who would launder the payments.

The scammers set out to defraud older Americans, legal immigrants and many others out of their life savings through lies and threats. Because of this, all resources at the Department’s disposal will be deployed to shut down these telefraud schemes, put those responsible in jail and bring a measure of justice to the victims, according to Attorney General Sessions.

The indictment also charged 32 Indian-based conspirators, who have yet to be arraigned.

The US authorities seem to be the only International player willing and able to take on the organised international fraudsters, root out these criminals and prosecute them.

Well done the U.S. Authorities and the Indian Police.

If you have any experiences with scammers, spammers or time-waster do let me know, by email.

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Automated Scam Calls

PPI callers and many others have been using automated systems for years that call and ask you questions then get you to press a button to be connected to an agent.

Automated systems are a lot cheaper than staff so for the criminals engaged in large scale scamming, this can be the most efficient way.

Action Fraud Technical Support Scam Calls

Action Fraud say people are receiving cold-calls from fraudsters claiming to represent Action Fraud. When the calls are answered, an automated voice asks the responder to “press 1 if you have made a report to Action Fraud.” When the responder presses 1, they are transferred to a fraudster.

Victims are informed that their computers have been hacked, which has led to their online bank account being compromised and funds being withdrawn. One particular victim was told that £40,000 had fraudulently left their account.

The scammer may ask for remote access to the victim’s computer, via a remote access tool. Once the scammer has that, they may be able to access confidential information, login and passwords, credit card details etc.

HMRC

The scam sees people called randomly with an automated message warning that they are under investigation by HMRC and need to call the number given or “face serious legal consequences.”

If you call back the crooks will likely ask for your bank details and make off with your money.

HMRC does not make threatening phone calls. HMRC will call people about outstanding tax bills, and sometimes use automated messages, however it would include your taxpayer reference number.

Talk Talk Example

“I have had an automated phone call from this number 081233472243. It was informing me that my internet connection would be cut at 1pm today, press button 1 to speak to an agent or button 2 to stay connected. I chose to hang up.

This is the first time I have had an automated call, I have had a lot of calls lately concerning my internet connection, I always hang up or sometimes they hang up when I tell them I don’t believe they’re from TalkTalk. They always ask me to turn my computer on, I always refuse.”

Good job she didn’t fall for the scam.

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Cold Call Surveys

Many companies use surveys of the public – stopping people in shopping centres etc. phoning two weeks after you bought a product from them and asking you to help them fill it in or by email request or cold call and so on.

Often, these are genuine surveys and the person standing in front of you or the caller is paid to get you to reply to their questions and sometimes there is a small reward such as a product tester.

But many cold call surveys are to get information that can be sold on – e.g. if you say you have pets then your name, address, contact details etc. can be sold to any number of pet insurance companies.

So, after the survey you may find yourself bombarded with calls from businesses you don’t want to deal with.

But there are other reasons they call e.g.

  1. They use the information you provide to trick you e.g. with a list of which magazines you subscribe to you may a call claiming one of the magazines subscriptions will end unless you pay immediately.
  2. Giving someone your name, phone number and birthdate can be enough for the scammer to make charges against your phone number
  3. The scammer starts asking survey questions then switches to a hard sell thereby bypassing the laws on cold calling for sales purposes
  4. A reward of some kind e.g. a discount cruise but where you need to pay a small delivery charge and once the scammer has your credit card details they can make any charges against your card they want.

Cold caller surveys may not be what they seem so be careful or just refuse to answer any questions.

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Keurboom Communications Stopped

Keurboom Communications Ltd has been handed the highest ever fine of £400,000 for nuisance calling after more than 1,000 people complained about automated calls.

The calls, made during an 18 month period, including road traffic accident claims and PPI compensation. Some people received repeat calls, even on the same day and during unsociable hours. The company also hid its identity, making it harder for people to complain.

The law says that companies can only make automated marketing calls to people if they have given consent. Keurboom ignored this and called without consideration.

The government is working on a new law to allow prosecution of Directors and fine them up to £500,000. This is because some companies deliberately closed down to avoid the fines imposed on them.

Following the ICO’s investigation, Keurboom Communications Ltd has been placed in voluntary liquidation. The ICO says it is committed to recovering the fine by working with the liquidator and insolvency practitioners.

How to Block Nuisance Callers

  1. Register with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) then reputable companies will no longer make sales and Marketing calls to your number.
  2. Use your phone to block repeated unwanted callers and caller ID withheld numbers. Some phones allow you to do this and some services such as BT Call Protect enable this.
  3. Use the magic phone number when a website demands your number. (More information at https://fightback.ninja/a-magic-phone-number-and-call-blocking/)

If you have any experiences with scammers, spammers or time-waster do let me know, by email.

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