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Take Five: tips on how to avoid fraud
Posted: 12th Apr 2021

To help combat and prevent the likelihood of falling victim to fraud, various schemes and initiatives have been set up to protect us. Take Five is a national campaign that offers straightforward and impartial advice to help everyone protect themselves from preventable financial fraud.

‘Take Five’ three first steps for staying safe are:

  1. STOP
  2. CHALLENGE
  3. PROTECT

The use of Scam emails/phone calls/texts has increased significantly with the COVID pandemic. Below are a few examples of the latest scams to be aware of:

National Insurance number scam

Victims receive an automated telephone call during which they are told their “National Insurance number has been compromised”. They are then instructed to “press 1 on their handset to be connected to the caller” in order to supposedly fix the issue and get a new National insurance number.  Once connected to the caller victims are pressured into handing over personal details which the fraudster claim is to enable them to receive a new national insurance number.

Royal Mail text message scam

Criminals are posing as Royal mail in an attempt to steal personal and financial details. A text message is used to claim a parcel is awaiting delivery but a fee must be paid first. The message includes a link which leads to a fraudulent website posing as a Royal Mail page and asks for personal and payment details which could then be used by scammers for further fraud.

What should I do if I get a scam call?

Older people are often a target for scammers, so it's important to be aware of phone scams and how to handle them. Fortunately, there are things you can do to protect yourself:

Don't reveal personal details. Never give out personal or financial information (such as your bank account details or your PIN) over the phone, even if the caller claims to be from your bank. 

Hang up. If you feel harassed or intimidated, or if the caller talks over you without giving you a chance to speak, end the call. It may feel rude to hang up on someone, but you have the right not to be pressurised into anything.

Ring the organisation. If you're unsure whether the caller is genuine, you can always ring the company or bank they claim to be from. Make sure you find the number yourself and don’t use the one provided by the caller. 

Don't be rushed. Scammers will try to rush you into providing your personal details. They may say they have time-limited offer or claim your bank account is at risk if you don't give them the information they need right away. 

How can I avoid phone scams and cold calls?

You can block or prevent some cold calls. Try these simple things:

  • Register with the Telephone Preference Service – it's free and it allows you to opt out of any unsolicited live telesales calls. This should reduce the number of cold calls you receive but may not block scammers.
  • Talk to your phone provider to see what other privacy services and call-blocking services are available, although you may need to pay for some of these services.
  • If you have a smartphone, you can use the settings on the phone to block unwanted numbers. If you’re not sure how to do this, you could visit your local mobile phone shop for assistance.
  • There are products to block some calls. Some local councils provide call blockers through their trading standards teams.

Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage.