As the world advances technologically and socially, so will people’s ability to try and steal and lie their way into getting someone else’s hard earned money. As long as there is money in the world, there will be those who try to take it from others so you need to do all you can to try and prevent that from happening. We’ve put together a short list of 4 confirmed identity scams that have affected real people, and what you should do in order to prevent yourself from becoming a victim. Read on to find out more.
- The Missed Call from an Unknown Number
You may check your phone one day to find that you have a missed call. Your phone does not recognise the number, but you could always call them back to see what they wanted. This is never recommended. Once you call an unknown number back, they now have confirmation that this phone number is in use and is in use by a real person. They also now have your phone number stored in their phones memory. They could use it to call you one day claiming to be a relative, or your local bank or any number of legitimate officials.
Or the call itself could be part of a simpler scam plan. Once you phone back, you may be taken to an automated phone service that serves ultimately to keep you on the line for as long as possible, wasting your tariff time and charging a hefty phone bill to your mobile at the end of the month. Under no circumstances should you attempt to phone back an unknown number or a missed call.
- The Lottery Winner
You get a piece of junk mail or an email saying that when you completed a certain form you were entered into a lottery and you won. Or that your house number was entered automatically and you are the lucky winner. All you need to do is fill out the attached PDF or call or visit a certain website to claim your prize.
One piece of crystal clear information in these circumstances is that you cannot win a lottery that you did not enter. In any type of genuine competition or lottery, you must have submitted an entry in order to be eligible to win. Your name is not automatically entered into a hat unless you’ve put it there. Now that that is out of the way, never click on a link in an email unless you are 100% certain of the destination. Look for inconsistencies in the link. Have they used numbers where letters should be? Is it from an odd URL? (i.e .de instead of .co.uk or .com). If there is anything that might look out of place, don’t click. It is better to be safe than sorry.
- The Accident and Insurance Claimant
“Hi there, I am calling to ask you about a recent accident you may have been involved in…” Sound familiar? This can happen to you on a mobile number or on a home phone, if it does, simply check the number and hang up. You can report the number to the police as that could help, or add it to a list of blocked numbers on your own phone as more modern phones have that option. Either way, you do not have to keep the conversation running for the sake of politeness. Simply hang up and move on.
- The Hopeless Romantic
While there are countless genuine dating websites designed to provide matches for people, there are people who use these websites unscrupulously. They work to build up an online relationship with the individual, sometimes being overly suggestive and then they abuse the built up trust through ‘favours’ or even blackmail. If you are looking into online dating, always check to make sure the person you are talking to is genuine. Video chat, or ask for recent photos and if they are unable to provide the evidence, cut them off. It is not worth the trouble.
At the end of the day, if you’re not sure of the validity of a call or piece of post, it is best not to respond in any way, or alert the authorities. That unknown text number or missed call might be from a close friend who has a new phone, but they can always try and catch you at another time or phone back if they really want to talk to you. You should never respond to an unsolicited text message as this could open the floodgates for a wide array of different charges, and then they even have your number on their system. Better to ignore it than to give in to temptation.
Nowadays there are so many different ways of getting caught out and caught up in fraudulent claims or accusations. Because a lot of banking can be easily done online or over the phone, you need to be extra vigilant with your important information and make sure never to give out personal information over the phone. Another important thing to remember – for those hyped up on social media – is to never share photos of sensitive data, yours or anyone else’s, and don’t publicise on social media if you are going away on holiday, as this can open you up to a potential burglary among other things. Be safe and be vigilant and if in doubt, check the caller’s references, it is your right to do so!
Article provided by Mike James, an independent content writer working together with London-based door entry system specialist Rentrifone, who were consulted over the information in this post.