Following on from our recent blog on being aware of scams and how to avoid them, here are details of two scams currently ‘doing the rounds’:
The first concerns an unsolicited phone call which claims to be from HMRC (Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs). This is an automated call which tells you that there is a warrant out for your arrest due to unpaid tax and you should ‘press 1’ on your phone handset to speak to an advisor.
Not surprisingly, many people panic at news of an impending arrest and follow the instruction to ‘press 1’, but this is a scam. Do not press 1 and instead immediately hang up to terminate the call. Although this particular scam has been around for a while now, it is still catching people unawares, especially older people who tend to me more trusting of anything that appears to be ‘official’.
Many scammers use a system whereby the initial contact is made using an automated call. This allows their computer to make a large volume of automated calls to potential scam victims. It’s a bit like a fisherman casting several baited hooks into the pond and waiting for a bite on one of them.
Only when a potential victim ‘bites’ will the scammer invest more time and effort into talking to them direct, trying to scam them into divulging personal or financial details or making a payment of some kind. Remember, if you receive this kind of automated call and are in the least bit suspicious, hang up immediately. Do not follow any of the instructions given to you. Just pressing the button as they ask might connect you to a very high rate call line which could cost you a lot of money.
A second current scam to be aware of concerns the online shopping website Amazon. Because so many people use Amazon, scammers have a higher chance of conning people by claiming they are calling from the business. This scam has already seen criminals steal more than £1 million from victims.
It also begins with an automated phone call, this time claiming to be from Amazon. It is a doubly evil scam because it initially claims to be protecting you from fraudsters! The recipient of the automated call is told that fraudsters have used their personal details to subscribe to Amazon Prime and then told to “press 1” if they wish to cancel the subscription.
When victims do this they are automatically connected to criminals posing as Amazon Customer Services. The fraudster advises the victim that their subscription was purchased fraudulently and that remote access to their computer is required in order to fix a security flaw that will prevent it from happening again.
Again, you should not press 1 and instead immediately terminate the call. You should never allow an unsolicited caller to talk you into giving them remote access to your computer. They will often use tricks like asking you to enter your password instead of telling it to them, claiming this means you’re safe, but it’s a lie.
You should never install any software onto your computer as a result of a cold call. Criminals like to use software to remotely access your computer. Always question uninvited approaches in case it is a scam. Put the phone down and contact the company direct using a phone number you know to be genuine (not one the caller has given you). Remember to ensure the phone line is cleared before dialling out and if in doubt put the phone down and terminate the call.
If you think you’ve been the victim of a scam, or an attempted scam, you can report it by calling Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or visiting its website at: www.actionfraud.police.uk/
On the website you will also find details of new scams which have been reported and of action taken against scammers. Many people are too embarrassed to report that they have fallen victim to a scam, however sophisticated or convincing it might have been. But only when scams are reported can police begin to take action against the criminals behind them.
Also be sure to tell your friends and family about any scams you’ve heard about. The best weapon against scammers is to expose their methods and tricks so other people don’t fall prey to them.