How to protect yourself from scam phone calls and texts
It’s never been more important to protect yourself from scam phone calls and texts.
They’ve been on the rise, particularly during the lockdown periods of the past year and a half, and Ofcom research shows that lots of us have come into contact with some form of scam.
What types of scam are out there?
Scam calls and texts are carried out by criminals who are trying to encourage you to hand over money, or your personal or financial information.
The scammers are becoming more sophisticated in how they operate, and it can sometimes be hard to tell if you’re receiving a legitimate call or text. Sometimes scammers might pretend to be calling you from your bank, building society, or they might claim to be from your phone or broadband company, or from parcel delivery firms. Scammers might even pretend to be from the government, HMRC or the NHS and will seek to take advantage of issues in the news to give themselves the appearance of being legitimate.
At certain times of the year there might even be an increase in some types of scam. For example, during the UK’s lockdown periods when people were relying on online deliveries, many noticed an increase in ‘missed delivery’ scams, where victims receive a call or text to tell them a delivery company is trying to deliver a parcel or requires payment of an additional fee to complete delivery. In these cases, the scammers want to get hold of your financial or personal details, or their text messages might contain a malicious link they want you to click on.
Simple steps to stay safe from scams
Fortunately, there are things you can do to help avoid falling victim to a scam, and they come in three easy steps.
If you receive a suspicious text:
Stop! The text could be a scam. Read carefully and look for any details that don't seem right.
Don't click on any links or give out any personal or bank details.
If you receive a suspicious phone call:
Stop! Do not give out any personal or bank details.
Hang up and call the company they claim to be from to check if it is a scam.
Remember, even if you think a scam is easy to spot and you don’t think you’ll get caught out, think about people who could fall victim. Only by reporting these scams can we collectively clamp down on the criminals behind them.
What is 7726?
7726 is a number used by all of the major mobile phone companies to allow their customers to report unwanted texts or mobile calls. In fact, ‘7726’ was chosen because it spells ‘SPAM’ on an alphanumeric phone keypad – that’s a handy way of remembering it.
You can forward a suspicious text or report a mobile call to 7726 free of charge. When you’ve done this, your mobile provider can investigate the number. Follow this guide to learn how to report to 7726.
If you think you’ve been scammed
If you think you’ve been the victim of a scam, report it to Action Fraud as soon as possible. You can do this by calling 0300 123 2040 or visiting the Action Fraud website at www.actionfraud.police.uk
Action Fraud is the reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Reports of fraud and any other financial crime in Scotland should be made to Police Scotland via 101.