As annoying, and sometimes even devastating, as they can be, if you look at them objectively, telephone scams are pretty clever. They prey on normal people’s trust in authority and those who are perhaps not quite as technologically savvy.
One tool that I’ve found is really helpful in spotting a scam, is using a search to “find out who called me”. Answering an unrecognised phone number is something many of us aren’t fans of anyway, so a good way to deal with this is to wait until the call has rung out, check the phone number through this website and see what others are saying. If it is genuine, they won’t mind you calling them back, and at least you can be secure in your choice.
Ironic anti-scam scams
This scam certainly requires a lot of guts, as the fraudsters claim to be from an anti-scam charity that offers to sell you a technology to keep you from being caught out. Of course, this isn’t genuine and you’ll just end up paying for a big fat nothing.
Your computer has a virus
With a bit of wishful thinking, you might believe that Microsoft has genuinely called you to report a virus on your computer – unfortunately, this is almost certainly a scam. They will require you to download anti-virus software (sometimes this has a cost attached and so you’re stung more than once!) which is actually installing malware on your computer and stealing your personal details.
It is incredibly unlikely that a company would contact you in this way, and if they did, you would be well within your rights to ask for proof that they are legitimate.
It’s your bank…
A call from your bank telling you that your account has some suspicious activity is enough to put you in a fluster and as such, you might not find yourself thinking straight. So, when the official-sounding person at the other end of the phone asks you for your bank details and password, you could be forgiven for handing it over, just to get the issue sorted. Of course, this isn’t the bank and the crooks now have a lot of personal and sensitive information about you!
“Can you hear me?”
It sounds innocent enough, but if someone you don’t recognise calls and asks whether you can hear them, this could be the start of an elaborate scam where the fraudsters record you saying “yes” and use this as “proof” that you agreed to pay for some dodgy software.
As you can see, there are so many different ways for these scammers to mess with you – to steal your money, or get you to hand over your private information. The best thing we can do is be aware of what scams are going around and keep our guard up when it comes to getting phone calls. Remember to always trust your gut as it will often tell you if something doesn’t quite feel right!
Interesting related article: “What is Cybersecurity?“