Would you give a stranger your house keys or your wallet? Probably not, because you don’t know them. It’s the same on the phone – you can’t be sure who you’re talking to.
Fraudsters phone people pretending to be Scottish Widows Bank, the police, or companies such as BT, Microsoft or TalkTalk. They do it to get you to send money, let them access your bank account or take control of your device to steal your personal data. Stop and think – is this call genuine?
Telephone fraudsters sound convincing and professional. Here are a few tips on how you can protect yourself and tell a genuine phone call from a scam.
Spotting a phone scam
Follow these four steps:
Do you know who’s calling?
If the call is unexpected, then they might not be who they say they are. If you’re not sure, say you’ll call back. Always use a trusted number (not the number the caller is using or asks you to use, and don’t assume a caller is from where they say they are, even if your caller ID says that. For Scottish Widows Bank, use the number on your statement, or from our website. If the caller says they are from the Police you can call back on 101.
Is the caller putting pressure on you?
Fraudsters want to create a sense of urgency to force you to make quick decisions. The scammer might also ask you to “keep it quiet” and not tell anyone about the call. Don’t trust anyone trying to silence you or hurry you up.
Never let a caller trick you into transferring money
Never transfer money if a caller says you must do this for “security purposes” to a “safe/secure/holding account”. Fraudsters might also say they’re from Scottish Widows Bank telling you that you are due a refund, or that you must complete a test transaction. We’ll never ask you to do this so hang up the phone!
It’s very rare for the Police or Scotland Yard to call people unexpectedly. If they do, they’ll never ask you to move your money. And they’ll always follow up with a visit from a Police Officer with photo ID and a warrant number.
The Police will never ask you to transfer money to a new account, and neither will we.
Don’t Log into your computer for a caller
If an unexpected caller claims there is something wrong with your computer or asks you to download something, this is almost certainly a con. The caller might claim to be from a broadband provider or trusted software company (even the one you use). But unless you asked for this phone call, it is likely to be a fraud.
If a caller asks you to log on to your computer, tell them you’ll make your own arrangements and hang up. Never tell a caller what you can see on your screen or allow anyone remote access (control of your machine) unless it's a company that you called first. Be very wary if the caller claims they have accidentally sent you money and ask you to send it back. If in doubt, put the phone down.