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How to avoid telephone and phishing scams

Recently in Ireland thousands of people have been been the victims of telephone scams. We recently caught up with Digiweb to find out what you should do if you're the target of one.

Nobody thinks they'll fall victim to a scam operation but lots of people continue to get caught out by opportune scam artists all the time. Here we’ll give a quick overview of the two main types of telephone scams in operation and what to do to keep yourself protected. 

The missed call

The first scam involves receiving a missed call from an unknown number. These scam companies might call several times, often early in the morning or late at night to trick people into thinking the call is urgent. As Sarah Burns from Digiweb explains: “The companies will usually ring you and then quickly hang up in an attempt to get you to call back. The number appears to be from a normal Irish landline or mobile but is, in fact, a premium rate number in a foreign country. When people are tricked into calling it back, they’re charged premium rates and left with a massive phone bill.”

Phishing

The second scam involves receiving a call, or email, from a company purporting to be your service provider or bank, where the caller attempts to get sensitive information from you such as your account username, password, credit card details and bank details so that they can take money from your account without your permission. This scheme is commonly known as phishing.

Another form of this scam is receiving a phone call from a person who claims to be a tech support worker, usually from Microsoft. The person warns that your computer is infected with a virus. The scammer offers to help you fix the problem immediately and tricks you into giving them remote access to your computer. However, it’s all a scam to get you to pay for bogus technical support or to get access to your computer to steal your credit card number or other financial information.

So what can people do to avoid being the victim of a telephone scam?

  1. If you receive a missed call from an unknown number, do not call it back, says Sarah. If you do call it back the company will try to keep you on the phone for as long as possible by pretending to be an operator or by saying nothing, which leaves the user confused. If you find yourself in this situation, hang up immediately.

  2. Be extra suspicious if no voicemail has been left as this is a ploy to increase your chances of ringing the number back.  

  3. If you think the call might be genuine but aren’t sure, try Googling the phone number or at least the first few digits. This should tell you what country the call came from. Sometimes you might even find warnings about the phone number from other victims online.

  4. If you’re pretty sure it’s a scam, block the number from your phone so that the company can’t call you again.

  5. Save down in your contacts the phone numbers of any friends or relatives who are living abroad. This way you’ll recognise any foreign numbers that call you and can be at ease when you receive an international call.  

  6. Be cautious about giving out any personal information over the phone, explains Sarah. Service companies that you use should already have your payment details on file and will never ask for your full card details, PIN or your online banking passwords. If you get caught out by a scam, immediately change the password(s) on your account as well as any other accounts that use the same password.

  7. If you feel you’re the target of a phishing call simply hang up the phone. You're not being rude! You can always ring the company back yourself to verify it’s them.  

  8. If you think you’re getting phishing calls or emails from a scam organisation, contact your provider or bank and let them know so they can warn other customers.  

  9. Keep your anti-virus software and browser up-to-date. Security patches are released all the time in response to security loopholes that phishers and other hackers inevitably discover and exploit. As soon as an update is available, download and install it. 

  10. Contact your internet service provider. As Digiweb’s Operations Manager Brendan McGahon says: “It’s important for everyone to be aware of this issue. We would like to remind all customers to be vigilant. We would advise people to inform us if they feel they are being contacted as part of a scam. We can then advise on the next steps which they should take to protect their security”.

So, if you ever find yourself the target of a telephone or phishing scam, follow the steps above and you should be safe.

Interested in Digiweb?

Perhaps a little less well known than some of the other bigger players in the broadband sector, Digiweb provides nationwide broadband access, enterprise data networks, data centre services, managed services and telephony to residential, business and public sector customers.

The company offers some great and competitively priced broadband packages, including lightning speed 1Gb (that's 1,000Mb) broadband connections with the help of its partnership with broadband infrastructure operator SIRO. Why not check out Digiweb's offers and see how they compare to your current broadband package now?     


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