Be wary of what you disclose over the ‘phone
The Office of Fair Trading is advising consumers to be wary of the information they disclose over the ‘phone.
The Office has recently been contacted by a consumer who received a ‘phone call from someone who said they were from a claims recovery service. The caller offered for a fee to recover money which the consumer had paid for an insurance policy which the caller said had been mis-sold to her.
The caller seemed to know a considerable amount of personal information about the consumer and asked her for her bank details. She refused to supply these and when she had finished the call telephoned her bank which confirmed that it had not given information to the caller.
The consumer was wise not to disclose information over the ‘phone. Although legitimate companies may contact consumers by ‘phone it is important to make checks on the company before disclosing any information:-
- Don’t feel obliged to continue with the conversation – put the ‘phone down if you wish to.
- If you carry on with the call advise the caller that you do not wish to make an immediate decision. Ask them to send you the details by post so you can consider them at your leisure. Tell them you will contact them should you decide to take up their offer.
- Ask for full contact details, including a telephone number. Be wary of a company which only provides a mobile phone number.
- Put the company's name into an internet search engine to see what you can find out but don't be fooled by professional-looking websites as scammers are good at making their scams look authentic.
- If the company purports to be based in the UK, check with Companies House (http://www.companieshouse.gov.uk/) to make sure that it is correctly registered and, if you're being offered financial services, find out if the company is registered with the Financial Services Authority (FSA) (http://www.fsa.gov.uk/register/home.do).
- Do not provide any financial details until you have taken the above steps and decided to accept the offer - in particular your credit or debit card details as these transactions can be difficult to cancel with your bank.
Chairman of the Office of Fair Trading, Bill Henderson MHK said “Consumers should be very careful to ensure that they know who they are dealing with. Never take risks with your personal or financial information. If it gets into the wrong hands it can be disastrous for you. Bank accounts can be emptied and your personal details used to set up fraudulent identities. Clearly not all contacts you receive will be of this type but legitimate businesses welcome consumers who take care of their information so do not feel embarrassed to check them out before you do any business with them. If you are concerned or unsure, put the phone down. Then check. Dont give any details out.”
Protect your financial information - Never give your bank account or card details to someone you aren’t satisfied is legitimate.