There are so many warnings out there about fraudsters trying to get your details – you’ve seen the adverts, you’ve seen the Facebook shares, you’ve even had the texts.
These are all well and good but they really don’t prepare you enough for truly knowing when you’re being scammed… and this is absolutely no-one’s fault and has nothing to do with someone just not using their common sense.
Because the fraudsters are just that damn good at what they do! Not always (I’ve seen emails that just look ridiculously fake) but the pros are on another level.
Lee and I almost got stung this week ourselves.
First of all, he received a text message from “Barclays” stating that there had been some unusual activity on his account. It looked legit but the fact it asked him to reply with a ‘Y’ or an ‘N’ just didn’t sit right with us. We were close to replying but Lee checked his account first on his mobile banking app. There had been no transactions recorded and there was nothing pending. We shrugged it off and ignored it.
An hour or so later, Lee’s phone was ringing. An 0345 number! “Ah, that’s the bank!” I exclaimed. So, Lee answered. The lady on the other end explained that there had been unusual activity on his account – she noticed that he lives in Birmingham but there was a transaction for Air BNB in Liverpool. Lee confirmed that this was not a transaction he had made. So, the woman asked him to go to his mobile banking app (Barclays) and access his PINsentry – once on it, she asked Lee to read the number and provide his security number.
Well, alarm bells were ringing in the distance and Lee listened to them. He stated that he wasn’t comfortable with giving this information but the very convincing woman reassured Lee that this would be a one-time reveal in order to stop the transactions going through.
In the meantime, I was racing to find information online to find out if this really was a legitimate call. I typed the phone number into Google and it was indeed confirmed to be a Barclays phone number… We were confused! It all seemed legit but those alarm bells were still chiming.
Lee opened his mobile baking app and accessed his PINsentry. Well, there it was… the message below that said “We will never ask for your pin “. Lee read this to the lady on the phone and she became quite persistent with him giving it to her – sounding a little too desperate.
Lee said he wasn’t comfortable with giving the information and that he would hang up and call the Barclays fraud line himself. “If you do that, you will have to wait over an hour to have your call answered and I can deal with it now.” Lee looked at me with a frown on his face. I raised an eyebrow in response.
Then, we got the confirmation we needed in two forms. The first, I stumbled across a “who called me” site where people had reported that they’d had the same call and that it was indeed a scam – and that they had cloned a Barclays phone number to make it seem real. Second, the woman on the phone started to get a little bit huffy puffy about not having the details fast enough. Lee hung up.
Luckily, we managed to escape the scam without passing over any sensitive data but I wanted to highlight the fact that the reason we dodged a bullet was because we were both there to suss it out. Everything seemed so valid from the phone number to the fact that she knew Lee’s address to her professional sounding manner. It just highlighted how easy it is for people to trust that these people are above board. If it had been one of us on our own, we might have been duped.
My advice? If there is one faint alarm bell ringing anywhere in your mind, listen to it. Don’t be afraid to question them – dig for validity. They’ll trip up at some point – remember, they are desperate for your details and your money.
Hopefully, you won’t get stung either but, for those who have been, I completely understand how it happened.
I hope this has helped!
Loula Bella xoxo