Protecting yourself against scams
25 January 2023
Phone call scams
What are phone call scams?
Much like text message scams, phone call phishing typically involves criminals posing as an official organisation or respected member of society, such as your bank or healthcare provider, in the hope of extracting personal information over the phone.
Signs of a phone call scam
Spotting a phishing phone call can sometimes be tricky, as it’s hard to confirm the identity of the person who contacted you. However, there are a few things you should look out for if you suspect something isn’t right:
- Asking for passwords – Whether it's over the phone, by letter or by email, a reputable company will never ask you for your password or bank PIN. If they need you to reset your password, they’ll send you a link to a secure page on their official website, which will allow you to do so safely. You should never give your password or PIN number to any individual person.
- Using threatening language – It's not uncommon for scammers to use threats within their calls to spur victims into action. Claiming your bank account will be permanently closed without action is a common example of this method, so be wary if you spot language that encourages you to take urgent action.
- Deflecting language – If you ask for proof of where they are calling from or ask to speak to a supervisor, they tend to change the subject or make you feel at fault for asking for more information.
- You can’t call the company back on their official number – as technology becomes more sophisticated, so do the scammers. Nowadays, criminals can hide their caller ID or mimic phone numbers, so it looks like you’re being called by a legitimate company. If you suspect something isn’t right with the call you’ve received, always hang up and call the organisation’s official phone number yourself.
If you’ve received a phone call from a legitimate source, they shouldn’t take issue if you hang up and call them back using their official contact number. If they provide you with a different number to call, check that it belongs to the trusted source before calling it. A simple Google of the number should show you who owns the number. If it’s not the company’s number, call the brand on their official number to check when they last wanted to contact you by phone.
Be wary of callers who don’t want to end the call or try to discourage you from calling them back on the company’s official number.
If you’re concerned, take the name of the person you’re speaking to, hang up and call the official company directly. If you can, call them from a different phone. Some scammers can keep the phone line open after you’ve hung up, meaning they can still hear your conversation after you’ve hung up. If you’re unable to use another phone, wait at least 10 minutes before making the call to the trusted organisation.
Scams are constantly evolving to outsmart technology and the general public. However, once you know a few tell-tale signs, it’s much easier to pick up on criminal activity.
We hope you’ve found this guide to identifying scams helpful and can apply the tips we’ve discussed to your everyday life. In the meantime, why not check out some more of our insightful guides on My Place?