Telephone Scams

mobilephoneI recently appeared on the Morning Show on TV3 to discuss the issue of Irish mobile phone subscribers being targeted by a phone scam. It appears that those behind the scam would place a call to a victim’s phone but hang up before they could answer thereby creating a missed call on the person’s phone. The prefix for the missed call number is 386 which if you look at quickly looks to be the prefix for the 086 Irish mobile phone number.  However, the number 386 is actually the international dialing prefix for the country Slovenia.  Anyone dialing the number, curious to see who they missed the call from, would end up facing a hefty charge as the number actually turned out to be a premium rate number. Some people actually reported the number went to a sex line.  Comreg are investigating the case and have reportedly stated that anyone impacted by the scam should not have to pay any incurred charges.

I was invited onto the Morning Show to discuss this scam and indeed to cover other common scams. The show is available online on the TV3 Player my interview starts about 14 minutes and 50 seconds into the show.

Here are some of the other typical type of scams that are out there;

  • Winner !!

You Have Won a Prize Text or Email Message You receive a text message claiming that you have won a prize, either cash or some high value item. To receive your prize you have to pay a shipping fee for it to be sent to you. However after spending your money you never receive the prize.

  • Give Me Your Bank Account Details

You may receive an SMS message telling you that there is a problem with your bank account and you need to log into your account straight away to rectify the problem. There will be a link in the SMS message that claims to take you to your bank account. This is an attempt by criminals to get you to log into a website they have set up to look like your bank’s website and steal your login credentials to your account. Once you enter your details the criminals will then take those details and log into your account and take your money.

  • SMS Competitions

This scam is where you can enter a competition by answering questions via text messages. However what they omit to tell you is that the number you text is a premium number and you end up paying a lot of money – the more questions you answer they claim will increase your chances of winning the prize but will also cost you a lot of money.

  • Ring Tone Scams

You may be offered access to a free or cheap ring tone to install on your phone. However, what you may not realise by accepting the offer is that you are subscribing to an expensive service.

How to Identify a Scam

  • You receive a call or text from a number you do not recognise or know
  • There are no clear indications in the message as to what company or organisation you are dealing with
  • There are no mention of costs in relation to services offered by the text message
  • There are no clear instructions on how to stop receiving these text messages.
  • Numbers given in messages are premium rate numbers.

How To Protect Yourself

  • Read the messages clearly and try to identify if it is a scam
  • Your bank or financial institution will never ask for your login details via email or text If in doubt do not ring back
  • If you did not enter a competition then consider how could you win it?
  • Read terms and conditions of any offers very carefully
  • Do not give your financial details (e.g. credit card information) to anyone you have not verified
  • Be careful of messages that just contain a link. This could be a link to an infected website and the scammer is hoping you will click on the link out of curiosity

Remember, if it sounds too good to be true then it probably is !!

2 thoughts on “Telephone Scams

  1. I am always amazed and impressed at the simplicity and elegance of these scams, and to be honest it is not surprising that people fall for them. The advice you give is sound, but telco operators should also be providing fail safes like verbal notifications that the number you are calling is an International premium rate number.

    There is no perfect answer and of course awareness is also a major element, but the scams often seem to exploit a weakness that could be easily plugged with little inconvenience to the end user. Unless of course they are just interested in taking the profit from these calls!

    • Thanks for dropping by Thom I think we have to recognise that there will always be people who are gullible, or are greedy, or who can be simply caught off guard and that there will always be others who will be ready to take advantage of them. Scams are nothing new, nor are victims, all that is changing is how the criminals interact with people

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