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Protecting yourself against scammers

Phone Scams

In most phone scams, criminals pose as employees from your bank, internet provider or local authority. For example, in a bank scam, the person on the other end of the line may try to convince you that there has been a security breach. They’ll claim that they need your account details to regain access. Of course, this means that you are giving your private information to the criminals, who would then proceed to empty the bank account.

In scams where people pose as your internet provider, a fraudster might call you and explain that a virus of some kind has infected your PC. In some cases, they ask you to download specific software. The fraudsters will use this power to steal personal information from your computer, including passwords to your online bank account, emails and shopping accounts.

Some tips for preventing phone scams are:

  • Don’t answer. Fraudsters commonly use private caller IDs or unusual telephone numbers. If you’re not sure who is calling, then don’t answer your phone. In most cases, fraudsters won’t leave a message yet if it’s someone genuine who needs to contact you, they’ll usually leave a message or contact you another way, such as by email or post.
  • Never share your bank details. Your bank will never ask you to move any money to another account over the phone. They’ll never ask you to share online banking details like your personal security number, or your PIN. If a caller claims to represent your bank and asks you for any of these things, hang up.
  • Don’t give access to your PC. Your internet provider would never ring you to tell you that you have a virus and that they need access to fix it. If you need to give somebody remote access to your PC, make sure that it’s somebody you can trust.
  • Ask plenty of questions – Fraudsters don’t like it when you ask questions. If you think someone is trying to scam you, you may want to ask lots of questions to try and catch them out. If they are claiming to be from a certain company, they should know everything about it. It’s highly likely that a scammer will become agitated and hang up. They’re also likely to get something wrong or contradict themselves, at which point you’ll know they’re not genuine.

For more information on phone scams, see Types of scam - Kent County Council

Internet Scams

The Office for National Statistics releases a Crime Survey for England and Wales every year. According to the latest report, an estimated 4.4 million cases of fraud took place in the year ending September 2020. Many criminal organisations have switched their focus from physical crime and are now targeting web users around the world.

For more information on internet scams, see Types of scam - Kent County Council

To find out how you can keep safe online, visit one of the following websites:

Doorknockers and Salespeople

Unless you are expecting somebody, the safest thing to do would be to ignore them. If possible, take a peek out of your window or through a peephole on your door and see who is there. If you don’t recognise the person or you feel suspicious, then don’t answer. With this in mind, it’s best to keep your doors locked at all times, even when you’re at home.

On occasions when you do answer the door, you should do the following:

  • Only open your door on the chain
  • Ask for photographic ID to prove that the knocker is who they claim to be
  • Ask plenty of questions
  • Don’t think twice about saying no and closing the door

If the door knocking is constant, then please contact a member of your family or the police (use the non-emergency number: 101). You can also buy a ‘no sales or cold callers’ sticker to put on your door, which can at least let some door knockers know you won’t answer.

For salespeople the key thing to remember is that if you really needed what they were offering, you would probably already know about the problem. If you are genuinely concerned that something is wrong with your property, you can always call a reputable tradesperson to come and take a look later.

Last updated: 24/02/2023