Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Be wary of telephone scams.

There has been an increase in the reporting of telephone scams. Unscrupulous marketing companies have been harassing private citizens by calling their home phone numbers at all times of the day and night. In addition to making an unreasonable and intrusive number of calls, these companies often claim to be connected to larger well-known organisations, brands, or government agencies.

Be extremely cautious if you receive a phone call from companies claiming to be associated with the government, Inland Revenue, or any other leading company. You should also be wary of companies claiming to be debt collection services or marketing services. Reports online indicate that many of these are scams, and they are an attempt to gain personal details from the householder.

For example, the caller will say they are collecting an old debt, the householder will ask for details of the debt, the caller will then ask them for their name, full postal address, and date of birth prior to giving any debt information. Be extremely careful who you give these details to. If you have never heard of the company, and do not know of any previous debt, you have a right to refuse to speak to them. If the debt is genuine they will already have your address and should contact you in writing.

Other scams involve attempts to encourage people to pay up front for services. The vulnerable and elderly are at risk of being taken in by these scams so if you have a family member who is being harassed by cold callers, consider fitting an answer machine for them, or add a call barring service to their phone to block certain numbers.

Call barring will help you deal with the majority of unwanted calls. Sadly this does not work for the companies who call from abroad on an international number, or for those who keep their numbers withheld.

Unfortunately, although the police are aware of these instances, there is little they can do until an actual fraud takes place. However, if you do receive scam calls, take a note of the number, report it to the OFT, and if you feel threatened in any way, report it to your local police.


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