How to Protect Yourself from Phone Scams

Vikki BournerWritten by Vikki Bourner, on 01 Mar, 2024

No one is immune against phone scams but there are things you can do to protect yourself that don’t take too much effort. Let’s get straight to it, shall we?

Say NO to personal information requests

When someone calls you on the telephone, you shouldn’t have to prove your identity. In fact, legitimate companies who make direct calls would never ask you to divulge sensitive information to them. If a caller ever asks you for personal information such as your PIN or bank details then hang up immediately.

Don’t give out personal information, just say no.

Check your line after hanging up

Scammers may keep your phone line open even after you hang up with technology that allows for line trapping. This phone scam aims to let you believe that you are hanging up to then call a legitimate number to verify their call. Instead when you dial the legitimate number, your call goes straight back to the scammer, with you convinced they are the real deal.

If you are in this situation,

  • After you hang up, pick the phone back up to see if your line is clear.
  • When dialling the number you know is legitimate, either use a different phone line, like your mobile or wait 10 to 15 minutes before you make that call.

Use your answerphone or voicemail

At Phonely, we suggest that if you don’t recognise a number or it’s withheld, you don’t answer the call. Be wary of local numbers too, as these can be spoofed. Scammers know that people see local numbers as trustworthy so take advantage of it.

If it is important, your caller will leave you a message if you don’t pick up. Your answerphone or voicemail is the ideal way to screen all of your calls for phone scams.

Join the telephone preference service (TPS)

The TPS is the UK’s only official Do Not Call register, where you can opt out of unsolicited marketing calls. However, although this will stop nuisance calls it will not prevent those with criminal intent from contacting you.

Join the TPS to stop nuisance sales calls.

What to be cautious of

When you’re in mid-conversation it can be hard to spot the signs of a phone scam. However, there are some red flags that can be easy to spot.

  • Phone calls appearing to be from your bank or the police regarding fraudulent activities on your bank cards or account. Scammers may request your PIN & instruct you to hand over your bank card to a courier. They may even request you move money to a safe account. It’s important to know that neither your bank nor the police would make such requests.
  • Persistent sales calls or investment offers that promise you all the money you & your family could ever need. Or giving you a solution to your debt problems or pension. If it sounds too good to be true, then it most definitely is.
  • Calls concerning your computer or mobile phone, where the caller tells you that your device has a virus & prompts you to download software for a fix. If you didn’t know that your tech had problems then neither does the person on the phone! The software you will be asked to download will give them access to your data & personal information.
  • A caller may appear genuine because they know some information about you. Knowing your basic details, such as your name, address, mother’s maiden name, or Direct Debits, doesn’t guarantee that they are a legitimate company. Unfortunately, this is easy information for criminals to get hold of.
  • Watch out for texts urging you to follow a link to resolve issues with your accounts or track a parcel. These may lead to fake websites, tricking you into logging in & providing scammers with access to your personal details.
There are several red flags to look out for with phone scams.

Feel no shame; name & blame

It’s common if you’ve been a victim of a phone scam or even been targeted, to feel ashamed. You feel foolish for being tricked. You should have known better. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. Because scammers know what they are doing. They know exactly what to say to make you feel a certain way. They create the perfect environment to steal from you.

If you find you have been a victim of a phone scam or fraud the best thing you can do is share it with people. Confide in your friends and family to protect your mental health. And inform the appropriate bodies set up to tackle phone crime and support victims.

Here are a few contacts you may find useful.

Action Fraud

Action Fraud is the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud, phone scams & cybercrime for England, Wales & Northern Ireland. Call: 0300 123 2040 or visit their website.

Call 159

159 works in the same way as 101 for the police or 111 for the NHS. It’s the number you can trust to get you through to your bank safely & securely, every time. So if you think someone is trying to trick you into handing over money or personal details – stop, hang up & call 159 to speak directly to your bank.

Text 7726

Forward unwanted texts to 7726 for free, allowing your mobile phone provider to identify & address potential scams.

Victim Support

Victim Support is a charity that is set up to support victims of crimes in any way that they need. Visit their website or call 0808 1689 111 to see how they can support you.

Age UK

If you are an older adult or concerned about one, you can get help & advice from Age UK by calling 0800 678 1602, or visiting their website. You can also find an Age UK representative in your area should you want to see someone in person or have a home visit.

The Samaritans

If you’re struggling to cope with the aftereffects of being a victim of a scam or fraud then the Samaritans are available to talk to 24/7. You can call them free on 116 123, email them or open a live web chat on their website.

Friends Against Scams

Visit Friends Against Scams and be a part of their #NoBlameNoShame movement, where they are working to remove the stigma attached to being scammed.

Let go of the blame and place it at the door of the criminal where it belongs.

Taking on board some of these tips will help you to protect yourself from telephone crime. You can find out more on how to spot a scam in our other article and of course you can you can get further protection from Phonely’s CallGuard.

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