/ Money, Scams

Scam watch: beware suspect caller requests

A suspicious phone call followed a halted bank transfer for this member of the public. Here’s why you should always be wary of unexpected contact.

When a member of the public recently tried to transfer some money out of an HSBC account to another bank, the transaction was halted behind the scenes.

They later received a call from a raucous-sounding call centre, claiming that they were from HSBC’s payment check team and asked for a part of their postcode and date of birth.

This understandably set off alarm bells, so they ended the call and contacted HSBC directly via its official channels.

See our guide to phone scams

It couldn’t confirm whether the unsolicited call had been genuine, so it cancelled the card as a precaution.

They then made a formal complaint and received a £50 goodwill payment, as well as a sympathetic response from HSBC.

But why couldn’t it confirm or explain the caller’s authenticity?

Always be suspicious

HSBC didn’t explain why it couldn’t verify the first call and had to cancel the card, but a spokesperson did say that it will:

“Never ask a customer for their full Pin or online banking codes like a secure key or password”

It added that if you’re unsure you’re talking to a real bank representative, to ‘call a known HSBC telephone number (such as the one on the back of your bank card), and request to be transferred to the appropriate department.

To this, we would add that you absolutely need to be suspicious of any contact claiming to be from the bank, police or other authority that may be seeking your information.

Scam call warning: Amazon Prime ‘renewal’

With any unexpected contact out of the blue, hang up. Take five minutes to collect yourself, then try to verify what you’ve been told through trusted channels.

Have you received a similar call following a bank transfer? How did you deal with it?

Corrinne Perryman says:
11 June 2020

Two calls today I have caller ID or show number, one from Hungary purporting to be from HMRC, the second from Australia!! offering me a very large loan, which I neither want or need, both wanted bank details and the Australian number required a call back to confirm my details. Like hell!!. Both are blocked and forwarded to appropriate companies. BE CAREFUL

M Daly says:
11 June 2020

I have caller ID so, when the phone rings, if I don’t recognise the number I leave it to go to voice mail but cold callers/scammers never leave a message.

Got a call this morning from BT to say that my internet and phone line would be switched off tomorrow. I should press one to talk to an agent or press two to stop the switch off. As I don’t have a BT account I cut the call. I blocked the number and deleted it. The caller sounded like a robot!
I’m averaging about 3 calls a day, all silent.

Sheila Clappison says:
11 June 2020

If I do not recognize the number I do not answer it and of course there is never a message left.

Jennifer C says:
11 June 2020

Beware of anything asking you to provide financial details. There are fake tv licence requests for example!

Chris F says:
11 June 2020

Since moving we have averaged a couple of scam calls a day. We have caller ID and any suspicious number we either ignore or pick up and say nothing. That means we can then use Call Blocker on our BT account. Apparently BT have a team who try to block these callers.
Some scammers have the means to fool caller ID with an apparently U.K. number. Favourites are Amazon Prime, BT internet to be cancelled and the one that perplexes me. “Can I speak to Mr Din?”
Look at YouTube under Scam Calls – there are people out there who are turning tables on the scammers!

We had a telephone call yesterday purporting to come from Sky and telling us that for a lump sum figure of X our Sky protect would work out cheaper than the monthly amount I paid. My wife took the call and the person she spoke to was most persuasive and eventually he said he would ring back at 12.30 pm. which never happened. We have the person’s telephone number if that is of any use to anyone?

Robert Letford says:
11 June 2020

I have been receiving calls for at least the last four months from supposed Amazon that x amount of monies was due to being taken from my account. I know immediately that this is a scam ad I never have had an Amazon account asha e never bought from them.
So I just each time I never talk to them just put phone down

You must be unique!

I have had these but rang my bank to record that any payment to Amazon was not authorised or should be checked with me.The idea is obviously is to panic you I always contact my bank usually in Branch so it is on my record that I have never given out information.

I would talk to them and say this?
What gives you the right to call my home treating me like an idiot asking me for my details!
I would then ask them for their bank details and tell them you have a device connected to your phone which tell you there exact address and that you have connections with the Police worldwide and to expect them to call at their house as soon as you contact them?
See what their reactions are then?

I once received a phone call from Sky asking me to insure my Box which was a scam.
I said “I do not need insurance on my Box, i am an electronics engineer with one right in front of me and i was repairing diodes within the power supply and they put the phone down

len ainsworth says:
11 June 2020

So many scams appear to be about that I am assuming most people who call out the blue are scammers. Only today some-one claiming to be from Amazon, said I owed them £79 n my Prime account. If I did’nt want to clear my liability, I was to press 1. This is very strange in that I subscribe to Prime monthly not only to get fee delivery of their stock, but also to use Amazon TV. I pay my account by Direct Debit.

[Moderator: this comment has been edited to remove personal contact details. Please don’t post personal contact details, regardless of whether they’re your own or others.]

How did the scammers even know about the transaction?

I think Which are doing a great job warning people about Scams.

Here is what i do not like:
Fraudsters make phone calls, The phone companies cannot trace them

Money gets stolen from an account!
I find it unbelievable that a bank cannot trace money stolen from their own customers account to the fraudsters account.

I have made enquiries into this and what i was told is ridiculous
1. Not all jurisdictions have the same financial laws!
Why? Stealing should be an offence whether you live in the Outer Hebrides or the South Pole?
2. Banks won’t investigate unless the amount is large enough as it is not worth their while?
What sort of answer is this?
If anyone loses £1000, £10000 it is a lot of money to the victim, may not be much to a bank!
With answers like this, i am not surprised Fraudsters get away with crime

M.Upham says:
11 June 2020

I had a phone call saying that I owed over £1000. That MI 5 have been looking for me. I had to buy £500 of itune vouchers and that my debt would be written off. I had to get a taxi to Sainsbury’s to purchase same. I must not tell anybody and keep my my line open, which I didn’t. I didn’t owe such an amount. I phoned the police and reported them to the police.

My query is this: if I buy anything via the Amazon platform, is it safe?

I am finding scammers are increasingly using text messages as a way to relieve you of your money. I had one today claiming that I had £43,725 in a trading account which I needed to confirm if I would only click on a link. No chance!

Andy Beresford says:
11 June 2020

Had a call out of the blue from BT, well that’s what they stated, the person said that my internet activity was causing alarms at their end so they needed me to log in to my account and make some changes to my connection, he quickly passed me over to his supervisor who relaid the same message, I stated I hadn’t got time at the moment as I was working from home, he stated his name was “Oliver Williams” and he would ring back in two hours…..I was suspicious so unplugged my phone line for several days. I suspect he would talk me through a series of steps that would have altered my connection opening me up to attacks -ni could be wrong but but it didn’t seen right…..

I had several calls on my landline telling me that my Internet connection was being hacked somewhere abroad and that my account would be suspended later that day, and to press 1 on the keyboard for more information. I put the phone down. The last time I said I was suspicious of a scam and would take advice before doing anything. No further calls !

Can I recommend that anyone getting regular scam calls should invest in BT Call Guardian which we have via our BT8500 phone. (There’s probably a more up to date phone system by now.) Call Guardian allows you to block specific numbers and only lets through calls to numbers you’ve registered on your phone. Where a number isn’t recognised and isn’t on your blocked number list the caller is asked to say his name. The caller will usually hang up at this point and the phone never rings.

Margaret Coulson says:
12 June 2020

That’s a great idea but it won’t help where the scammers have cloned a bona fide number. The Which advice to be suspicious whatever and hang up before doing anything seems best.

I not used BT Call Guardian myself, except when calling one or two homes that use it. But Alan’s post seems to confirm what I’ve read from its user guide – ie it can be very effective against these scammers.

It will be interesting to see how those defensive measures “interact” with the government’s covid test track trace scheme.

I expect they’ll block those calls too.

There’s an interesting technique that is found in the wild. Your “bank” rings up, tells you to look up the contact number on a bank statement and call them back. You put the phone down and ring the correct number, only to be talking to the same set of scammers again.

What happens is that when you put your phone down, the scammers do not, thus keeping the same phone call alive. They play ringtones down the line so you think you are dialling the number.

One defense is to ring a blatantly false number (01234567890) to verify that you are *not* connected. Another defense is simply to wait for 15 minutes.

There is a big problem here. If you phone a legitimate company, you have to go through a security process to verify who you are. But if they phone you, you have no way to verify that the caller is genuine, especially if the number is withheld. You have to drop the call, wait, use a different number to get the call centre, often waiting in a lengthy call queue, only to discover that they can’t connect you and you have to repeat the process with a different number. Why can’t banks etc come up with a way that you can verify that an incoming call is genuine?

I too have ended conversations with genuine caller companies where it is not possible to identify them. With so many scammers around, it is about time that companies invented a way of setting minds to rest that they are a genuine caller, rather than a scammer, before they get into their customer identification spiel. Expecting customers to reveal personal information before they reveal what they are making contact about is playing into the hands of the scammers who employ the same process.

I too have the same type of a call from my bank they ask you for your details and then wonder why you will not give them You are right surely there must be some way for them to verify who they are