There is hardly a day goes by when some unintended consequences of the Covid-19 situation do not make themselves known and one factor which no-one took into account because there was no precedent has been a huge increase in scam telephone calls.
These have included people indicating that they are from your internet provider – Amazon – HMRC and most importantly Banks where those on the line seek details of your account.
The calls are largely targeted on landlines which impact disproportionately on the elderly who use this method of communication much more than the younger generation but as we have seen locally they are not exclusive in being caught and one recent young hospital worker lost a very significant amount of money in recent weeks.
The calls do have various characteristics.
They can be a recorded message – there can be a pause and they can clearly be identified as being an overseas call.
The clearest advice that can be given is that under no circumstances should you proceed along the lines you are requested to do i.e. press button 2 etc for more information. You should simply terminate the call immediately.
There are however a range of other pro-active measures you can take and these are as follows:-
1. Register with a Telephone Preference Service. You can register to opt-out of unsolicited telesales calls from your landline.
This can take up to 28 days to come into effect. If you have given permission for a company to call you you can still receive calls from them even if you are registered under this scheme. This does not however cover calls from overseas which apparently mainly come from India but the Government is actively liaising with specialists in this field to remedy this anomaly.
2. Use a free call-blocking service. BT’s Call Protect is a free service for customers that automatically diverts calls to your junk voicemails if they have been identified as being on BT’s blacklist. You can also manually block certain callers.
3. You can purchase devices that plug into your existing landline and block unwanted and automated calls. You can also buy a home phone that has call-blocking tech built in.
4. Sky’s Talk Shield service is free for its Broadband and Talk customers. Callers have to state their name, then you can choose to accept the call, add the caller to a Star List (they’ll get through every time) or Block List, or send them to voicemail. If it’s an automated call, it will be blocked. Talk Talk offers a very similar service for its customers called CallSafe.
5. You can block individual numbers on your mobile.
All of these suggestions will take a little time and a little effort but they should make a not insignificant difference to the problems that so many are experiencing and bring with it a level of peace of mind which does not exist in this area at the moment
Finally, a small anecdotal story that relates to a call I had in a very pleasant manner and I asked in an equally friendly term what the weather was like and where the caller was based.
The answer I got was that the caller was in Eastbourne upon which I claimed was a co-incidence because I had been brought up there and I asked him what school he had attended as it was just possible that we might know each other.
The phone went dead immediately!