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Date: 7th Mar 2017

Who’s really on the phone?

It’s not just through new technology where crafty criminals will attempt to con you. They’re just as likely to try and get your details off you over the trusty old telephone as they are online or by text message. So if you get a call from someone saying they’re from your bank, credit card provider or another important organisation, what should you look out for?

This short video from Take Five featuring some well-known celebs might give you some of the answers before we talk about it a bit more.

The same rules as apply as they do elsewhere – if something seems suspicious or too good to be true, then stop and Take Five to check it out. In the video, the people on the other end of Rufus, Carol and Donna’s phones don’t do this, and are only too willing to accept they really are speaking to someone from a magazine having been hooked in by the promise of a few freebies.

What the celebrities do in the video - and sneaky scammers will do given half a chance - is lure you in by building up a rapport and coming across as someone you can trust. Your friend even. And before you know it, you’ve given them everything they need to get their hands on your money – not good.

Before you ever give a stranger your personal or financial details over the phone, make sure you know who they are. If you’re asked for sensitive stuff, like your PIN or log in details, it’s probably a fraudster on the line as your real provider won’t ever ask for these.

Don’t be afraid to say you’re not happy to give any info out. A genuine company will usually understand, so trust your instincts to gauge their reaction. If the caller is a bit funny about it or seems offended, put the phone down and call back on a number you trust, like the one from their website or the back of your credit card.

Just like you would with any other form of communication, before you give anything personal away it’s really important to establish who’s really on the phone. Take Five and don’t let the fraudsters beat you.

Alexis: Welcome to Scam Academy. I’m Alexis and I’m going to teach you about financial fraud. You believe me, right? After all, it’s human nature to want to believe that someone is who they say they are and that they’ll do what they say they’ll do. Like, if you get a phone call from a bank or from the Police saying they need you to share your financial or security details for something – why wouldn’t you simply assume that they’re genuine?

The reason is because it could be a criminal at the other end of the phone, pretending to be your bank or a police officer, or other trusted organisation. Do you think enough people know that?

What we’re going to ask you to do now, is each of you is going to make a real phone call to a real person and you’re going to try and get their financial details off them.

You’re going to call them up with a story and the story is going be this. You’re going to be calling from a magazine called Top Gadget Magazine.

Rufus: Hello there. Can I speak to Mr Cooper, please?

Carol: My name is Jane and I’m calling from Top Gadget Magazine. We want reviews of real gadgets, by real people, in the real world.

Donna: I wondered if you’d be interested in receiving some gadgets from us, that you could review for our magazine?

Rufus: Does that sound like something you’d be interested in helping us with?

Carol: Now, we don’t pay for the review, but we offer some of the gadgets you want to review free to keep.

Rufus: Which of these would you say you’re most interested in? Would it be flat screen TVs, game consoles, sat navs, tablets, or smartphones?

Carol: We’ll probably send you maybe three or four products out to start with, if that’s ok?

Rufus: We can send say five phones and at the end of that you can select the one you like best to keep.

Donna: Oh, that’s great. OK, well let me just take some details from you.

Carol: First of all, if you could give me your postcode.

Rufus: Do you mind holding on for one moment? Thanks ever so much.

Donna: You are just outside of our free delivery zone on this.

Rufus: All I’m thinking is, if you pay the £12 delivery charge, then we can refund you when we get the gadgets that you send back.

Donna: Would you still be interested in receiving one of the items? Yeah, you’re willing to go ahead?

Carol: Do you have a card with you by any chance?

Donna: We take debit card, credit card. Whatever works for you really.

Carol: So the long number on the front.

Donna: Thanks so much for your time, appreciate that. Bye now (pause). (Under breath) Horrible. I’m a horrible person!

Rufus: The fact that you have to engage with this technology in order to be a functional human being in 2017 means that you’re compelled to take that extra time ‘cos it is, by this point, almost impossible to tell the difference between a really good scam and a completely genuine phone call, a completely genuine text, a completely genuine email that turns out to be not completely genuine.

Alexis: So what exactly are we teaching you here? That making the right call means taking a moment to identify the wrong one. If you’re unsure, never hesitate to contact the organisation in question, your bank or credit card provider on a number that you trust, such as the one listed on their website or on the back of your payment card.