Local TV personality, Helen Skelton, highlighted that even the youngest, switched-on people can be drawn in by a scam. She made a documentary about her experience to encourage others to overcome their embarrassment about being caught out. Many people are too ashamed to report cybercrime. In Helen’s case the scammers had asked her to pay her TV licence over the phone because the direct debit had bounced. A follow up call from her “bank” had lulled her into giving more information to the scammers.
Just as my colleague was telling me about the programme, I noticed I had a missed call and a voicemail. It was a message from HMRC. A lady with an American accent and poor grammar told me very sternly I was in trouble and if I didn’t pay up now there would be legal repercussions. I had to act TODAY. Luckily I have heard about this one as it has been doing the rounds for some time.
I've always been of the mindset that if people really need me they will leave a message. Cold callers often don’t. This message could be quite frightening though, to someone who has not learned to question everything, even when it appears to be from someone in authority. There is literally no avenue scammers are not willing to exploit.
Helen’s programme had some key tips to help recognise a scam:-
Scammers don’t want to give you time to think or verify their credentials.
They also don’t want you to ask anyone else for advice so a key tactic is to claim the contact is sensitive and secret.
When emailing, hover your mouse over the email address. If it doesn’t exactly match what you were expecting, be concerned. This is how Helen was caught out. The email address was one letter different. With phone numbers if you’re not sure you can google the number and check the caller is bona fide