Tips and advice on current tricks to get your money
Sue Yoxall, Wandsworth's Community Safety Manager, and DC Jim Egley from Scotland Yard’s Special Crime Directorate 9 gave a fascinating talk on Fraud at our last Members' Meeting.
Telephone scams have overtaken distraction burglary as the most common crime affecting older people in the Borough, with over 15 reported victims monthly. Those targeted are mainly older single people living alone, as criminals can easily trace personal details and phone numbers using websites and other lists of personal details that are available to 'heir hunters', but anyone can be caught out, as the fraudsters are very convincing.
Sue brought Henrietta with her, who explained how she had been caught by telephone fraud.
She supposedly got a call from the Apple Store in Regent Street. They stated that someone had used her card and asked if she had a grandson as there was a young man wearing a hooded jacket in the store at that time who they were watching. He had already bought one thing on her card but it looked as if he was going to spend more. They gave her another number to call to talk to their Security Manager. Although she thought she was speaking to the Security Manager she was in fact still talking the people who originally phoned as they had kept the phone line open and used a recording of dial tone to convince her she was making a new phone call! They very cleverly managed to get her PIN number off her and then said a courier would collect her cards. This was her experience.
However, there are others where the fraudsters phone you posing as the fraud department of your credit card company or your bank. By spinning a convincing story that your credit card has been cloned they wheedle information from you, including your pin number (all done very slickly). They even suggest you ring the number on the back of your card to confirm they’re genuine. At this point you have two options. Using your mobile or another separate phone line to ring the number on your card you can find out if the call is genuine or not, or, if you don’t have another phone, dial the number of a friend or family member instead. If you do that, and the phone is ‘answered’ by the ‘Fraud Department’, you know 100% that these people are trying to con you. The fraudsters stay on the phone, and play a recording of dial tone, so you think they’ve disconnected! They even convince you to hand your card over physically by suggesting that having your card in their hands will help catch the criminals, so they send couriers to collect the card. Don’t EVER give out information about your credit card, especially a pin number (they may make a big deal about this such as ‘Don’t tell us the pin number. Just key in the first and last digit’. DON’T DO IT. No credit card company or bank would EVER ask you for your pin number or for you to hand your cards over to a courier/cab driver. And do report the attempt to your local police using 101.
If your bank phones you, and you’re unsure if it’s a genuine call, have some information about your account at hand so you can question the bank. For example, on what date do you pay your mortgage and what is the exact amount. Your bank will be able to answer specific questions about your account which a fraudster won’t be able to.
Be extra alert when getting cash out of a cash machine. Always check first to make sure there are no people loitering about. If you are in the middle of a transaction and someone taps you on the shoulder, try not to turn round until you’re finished, because they’ll try to grab your cash and your card. Or put your hand over the part that has your card. Check above the key pad as some criminals put minute cameras to capture your pin number. They will have already changed the facia of the right hand side of the machine so that they can capture your card.
There are so many frauds and scams these days, but DON’T answer the door to strangers, certainly never let them in, and DON’T give out information over the phone unless you are 100% certain you know who you’re talking to. If you want to transfer money in this country or abroad be very careful as some of the transfer companies can be fraudulent. Stick to Paypal and credit card. And be VERY careful buying electrical goods online, including phone/Ipad chargers etc as there are many very good fakes out there which can prove fatal. Only buy from reputable sources. And tell your friends about these scams – the more people who are aware, the fewer will caught out.
I just heard about another scam, whereby someone knocks on your door, panic stricken, saying their phone is flat, and they need to let their partner know that they’re going to be late fetching the children, and can they please use your phone to let them know. You hand over your phone, they dial a number, and you hear them saying that they’re going to be late etc. They hang up, and hand you back your phone. Later, when you get your phone bill, you discover it’s for a £1000!! The number the person dialled is one that triggers something that puts huge charges on your phone. Should you get the knock on the door, the advice is for you to ask for the number to dial, and dial it yourself. Generally they won’t bother if you’re going to dial it yourself.
An excellent booklet with many more scams and frauds is 'The Little Book of BIG SCAMS' published by The Metropolitan Police is available from Putney Library.
June 2, 2013