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A Summer of suckers – don’t be fooled

There is going to be a plague of suckers this summer if we’re not careful.

I’m not talking about unwanted plants in your rose-beds here folks; I am talking about vulnerable and gullible people being parted permanently from their savings by ruthless fraudsters. People like you and me.

As previous readers of these pages will know, I have already warned about so-called suckers’ lists.
At some stage in your online life you will have innocently filled out a form to enter a competition perhaps, or a market research survey or bought something from a moody retailer  – having said that it may not have been online either, it just tends to be, because its easier to hide online.Cold Call Image

This data may well have been collected and sold time, and time again to people who wish to hard-sell you things you didn’t need or didn’t want. And they are very good at it. Sometimes you will hear them say: “This is just a courtesy call.” “I am conducting some market research.” And even “I’m not trying to sell you anything.”

You will get phone calls out of the blue you from a number you will not recognise and many of those voices are very charming, persuasive and have a great deal of experience. They will ask questions, innocent ones and make flattering assumptions like “I know you are a man who likes to keep up with current affairs” and gradually gain your trust.

You will ask them how they came to have your private mobile number. The answer will be something like: “We acquire them from such and such agency as someone who has indicated they are interested in stocks/pensions/investments/whatever.”

This is especially prevalent in the summer when many people are on holiday and feeling more relaxed.  It’s also because, it is estimated that in 2015 , the over 55s will have taken an estimated £1.5bn from their pension funds. This is deemed by the bad guys to be disposable income. *

How do I know this? Because I used to investigate the companies that indulged in these sales practices and my name is still on a dozen or more suckers’ lists because I deliberately put it there. I have had some fun with them over the years.

In recent weeks the rate of incoming unwanted calls has, at least, tripled – including four in a single day.
If you don’t believe me, the BBC reported this week that nearly 200,000 with an average age of 74 have been scammed off suckers’ lists with fraudulent mail.

Here are my tips for avoiding damage from a suckers’ list

Don’t answer mobile calls that come through either Blocked or No Caller ID. If it is innocent or important enough they will leave a message.
Ask yourself “Did I invite this person to call me?”
Ask yourself: “Do I want this?”
Ask yourself: “How did this person get my number?”
Ask the caller for the FCA registration number of their company if they are offering something financial or their company number of any non-regulated service.
Do not answer unsolicited mail.
Never, ever give bank or credit card details away.
If you are suspicious of anything ask the caller to give you a switchboard number so that you can call back and verify their authenticity.
If you have any suspicions at all, put the phone down.

Finally the killer question is always this: “If it sounds too good to be true. It is.”

By Steve McDowell

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