“Cold calling” (where you receive an unsolicited phone call out of the blue) is the bane of our lives today, typically with a land-line. Some cold calling may be from a legitimate business, but it’s a moot point whether cold calling is a legitimate activity these days: but many cold calls are criminally intent.
Such calls can be generated by computer: there is often a silence at the other end until a human being comes on the line. If you receive a ‘silent call’, hang up immediately. You can buy telephone sets that will screen calls, such as BT’s Call Guardian: this can be a bit of a fiddle, but you’d never have to answer a computer-generated cold call again!
NEVER give pin numbers or passwords out over the phone or on-line—or face-to-face. Your bank, for example, may ask for the first and third characters of your point or password when you do telephone or on-line banking—but they NEVER ask for them in full.
BE VERY CAUTIOUS about clicking a link in an email—NEVER is safest. Many organisation do not put links in their emails anymore and ask you to log on via a secure website if you need to access an account. Many emails are very sophisticated now and sometimes it is very hard to distinguish a fraudulent one from the real thing.
BEWARE of look-alike websites—even websites that are ‘legitimate’ businesses can charge a hefty fee for an otherwise free service from, for example, HM Government.
Don’t be duped into parting with your money: if an offer comes out of the blue, and it appears a great opportunity for investment, STOP: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
There’s nothing quite as despicably mean, covert, unprincipled, and insidious, as the kind of personal fraud we see today, perpetrated through telephone calls, phishing emails, rogue web sites, or even a knock at the door. People have had their life-time savings taken having been duped into departing with their cash. The victims are often—but by no means always—vulnerable people.