Scams have become a sad fact of life in Britain today. Research suggests that, so far this year, 40 million of us have been targeted. With the ongoing cost of living crisis, losing any amount of hard-earned cash to a fraudster could be all the more devastating. The emotional impact can often be even worse.
Ranvir Singh, who recently nearly fell for a TV licencing scam herself, has been looking at what we can do to stay safe.
“Anyone can fall victim to a scam. If you think you're immune, you need to think again... the circumstances just need to be right,” says Jim Browning, an ethical hacker, who turns the tables by hacking the scammers’ own systems, intercepting calls and, where possible, stepping in to stop people from being conned.
He’s invited us to listen in as he monitors attempted bank impersonation scam calls in progress. He’s been monitoring this particular scam group for some time. The scammer we listen to follows a familiar script of trying to persuade the victim her money isn’t safe. He insists she must take a taxi and make a withdrawal from her local branch.
“I'll be ready to call her whenever the scammer hangs up…. Because they want her to move to the next phase of the scam,” he says, poised to step in and save this latest victim.
Cybersecurity expert Jake Moore explains: “In the past we used to see much more general attacks. But now we are seeing it's evolved to more targeted attacks, knowing more about you…”. The scammers might already know a lot about us, but they need extra pieces of information, “and that's when they might ring you up and purport to be your bank or another company. And by offering a little bit of information to say, verify who they are, they then let your guard down.”
The main lesson is to always be on our guard and take nothing at face value. If we receive a call purporting to be from our bank, for example, it’s acceptable to hang up and call back on a number we trust. Always take a moment to assess the situation, and think twice before giving away personal information.
Fraud reporting services
Action Fraud (England, Wales and Northern Ireland): https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/
If you’ve been the victim of fraud in Scotland, contact the police on 101.
Citizens Advice (England & Wales): https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/
Advice Direct Scotland: https://advicedirect.scot/
Consumer Line (Northern Ireland): https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/services/contact-consumerline-make-complaint-or-ask-advice
Further Advice and Information
Take Five To Stop Fraud: https://www.takefive-stopfraud.org.uk/
Friends Against Scams:https://www.friendsagainstscams.org.uk/