Managing partner Alison Lobb warns of the dangers of giving out personal information, and gives advice on rooting out scammers before falling victim to them.
Like many people I’ve been working more at home over the last year or so, and one thing I’ve noticed is the amount of calls we get during the day on our landline. I know a lot of people don’t have landlines any more, and I can now think of a good reason why, as all of those calls seem to be trying to con us, in one way or another.
We have had an incessant stream of calls from people saying they are from Sky, Amazon, our banks, BT, Microsoft, and others, and I don’t think any of them have been genuine. However, I know people; sensible, intelligent people, who have fallen for these calls and responded to them
I know someone who handed over their bank details to renew Sky insurance, only to realise immediately they put the phone down that they had already renewed it quite recently. Fortunately, they were able to get through to their bank straight away, who cancelled their card and confirmed it was a scam.
More recently we have seen people misled by text and emails about parcel deliveries, which again are designed to make the recipients click on a link to a website, and probably give away personal information, and don’t even get me started on those doom-laden voice messages on my mobile telling me I’m about to be arrested for tax fraud!
The point is, these scams work, because generally they come from supposed trusted providers. If a company you are used to dealing with, and is a trusted household name, calls you and offers a limited-time deal, or panics you that your Prime account is going to be closed down or you owe them money, you automatically respond the way they want you to, without stopping to check if it’s genuine.
This is why, at Morecrofts, as well as training all our staff to look out for signs of cyber-crime, we go through a lot of steps to check that we know who you are, and that we don’t hand out bank details by email. There’s only so much we can do, however.
Like these large companies, we are a trusted provider, and criminals might use your trust in our services to try to con you out of money or personal details which could be used to steal your identity. I know it can be time consuming or frustrating when we ask you prove your identity, or double-checking bank or other details with you, but this is for the protection of all our clients. Please do feel free to ask us if you don’t understand why we are doing things in a certain way, or asking you for particular information, and we can explain that to you.
In your dealings with us, just as in other areas of your life, please be vigilant, ask questions and don’t give away personal information unless you are sure you know who you are giving it to.
My top tips for protecting yourself:
- Never give away personal information on the telephone – details such as your date of birth, mother’s maiden name etc. could be used to steal or clone your identity, or to try and hack your passwords.
- If you don’t think the person you are talking to is genuine, hang up and call them back on the usual number you would use to contact that company, nit the one they have called from. Try and use a different phone line as they could have left the call open and you would reconnect to them without knowing.
- If someone tries to sell you a product or service, ask them to email you the details to consider and say you will contact them to follow up.
- Never give your bank details to anyone by telephone. if you forget, and do this, and you are not sure if they were genuine, contact your bank immediately.
- Be careful about the passwords you use, try and use random words which can’t be connected with your family, hobbies or interests, as those could be easily guessed, and use combinations of numbers, letters and symbols. Use a password manager to keep passwords safe and don’t use the same password on different accounts.
- Sign up to a scam alert service such as Which Scam alerts which will keep you updated on what scams are going round and what to be wary of.