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21/02/2024 - 

Scam calls: who is calling me from this number? Here’s your go-to guide

In this detailed guide, we’ll explore various ways to identify unknown callers. We'll also take a closer look at scam calls.

How to find out who called you

Online reverse phone number lookup services

These services allow you to enter a phone number and receive information about the caller. Websites like Who called me? offer this service specifically for UK phone numbers. This site was founded in 2014 by Marcin Stypulski, a software engineer and telecom specialist. Here’s an example of the information it provides about a phone number:

“Our vigilant and trustworthy community has reported that the telephone number 07946504735 is primarily associated with phone spam activity impersonating The Carphone Warehouse! It is possible that this number is not authentic and does not belong to The Carphone Warehouse, despite what the caller may suggest.”

Caller ID and spam detection apps

Apps like Truecaller or Hiya provide caller ID services and spam detection, helping you identify unknown numbers instantly.

Search engines and social media

Sometimes, a simple Google search of the number can reveal its source. Using quotation marks (“like this”) around the phone number will make sure Google only returns results about that exact number. Social media platforms also use phone numbers for user profiles, which can be a source of information.

Scam calls: what you need to know

What is a scam?

A scam is a fraudulent or deceptive attempt to access your data or your money.

Common types of scam calls in the UK

The HMRC tax scam call
This scam involves callers impersonating Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) officials, claiming the victim owes unpaid taxes and faces legal action. They often demand immediate payment or personal information under the threat of severe consequences. If you’re self-employed, you should watch out for HMRC scams during the approach to the self-assessment deadline on 31st January.

Amazon scam calls
Fraudsters pose as Amazon customer service, often claiming issues with the victim’s Prime subscription. They may say you have unauthorized sign-ups or overcharges, and request personal or payment information.

Tech support scams
Scammers claim to be from a well-known tech company, like Microsoft or Apple, informing the victim of a virus or security breach on their computer. They offer to fix the issue for a fee and may request remote access to the victim’s computer.

Lottery or prize draw scams
The caller congratulates the victim for winning a lottery or prize draw they never entered. To claim the prize, victims are asked to pay a fee or provide bank details.

Pension and investment scams
With the increasing focus on financial security, scammers lure victims with promises of high returns on investments or pension liberation schemes, often leading to significant financial losses.

Recharge scams
Some scammers have been fraudulently sending people to Recharge.com and asking them to send a prepaid card code to their email. These scammers operate on platforms like Facebook Marketplace, pretending to be interested in an item you’ve listed.

Some scammers pretend to be a friend or family member. They may claim they’ve changed their phone number, and then ask you to up an unfamiliar number through Recharge.com.

Recharge is not responsible for these calls and guarantees that all legitimate transactions are not visible to fraudsters. However, scammers can deceive you to get what they want. If there’s any doubt about the identity or trustworthiness of the person who’s contacted you, do not agree to their requests.

Tactics used by scammers

Preying on fear and urgency
Scammers create a sense of urgency, often threatening legal action, financial penalties, or loss of service. This tactic is designed to panic the victim into acting hastily without verifying the call's legitimacy.

Authority impersonation
By pretending to be from trusted organisations, scammers exploit the victim's trust in these institutions. This is particularly effective in HMRC and tech support scams.

Phishing for personal information
Scammers cleverly weaves questions into the conversation to extract sensitive information like passwords, PINs, and banking details.

Exploiting current events
Scammers adapt their narratives to current events. For instance, in 2024, there may be scams related to new tax laws or pandemic-related financial support schemes.

Emotional manipulation
By invoking excitement (in lottery scams) or empathy (in charity scams), scammers manipulate victims’ emotions to lower their guard.
Offering too-good-to-be-true opportunities
In investment scams, the promise of high returns with little to no risk is a common lure used to attract victims.

How to recognise and respond to scam calls

Be sceptical of unsolicited calls. If you receive a call from an unknown number, especially one demanding personal information or payments, be wary.

Take your time to think and verify. Scammers rely on creating a sense of urgency to prevent you from thinking clearly.

If someone claims to be from a company or government agency, hang up and call the official number found on their website or official correspondence.

Legitimate organisations will never ask for sensitive details like passwords or bank PINs over the phone.

Don't trust the caller ID blindly. Scammers can make it look like they are calling from a legitimate number.

Stay updated on the latest scam trends in the UK. Government and consumer protection websites often provide information on current scams.

If you suspect a scam call, report it to Action Fraud, the UK's national reporting center for fraud and cybercrime. You should also report it to your phone service provider.

Protecting yourself from scam calls

Block the number
Use your phone’s blocking feature to prevent further calls from the same number.
Register with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS)
The TPS allows UK consumers to opt out of receiving unsolicited marketing calls, reducing the likelihood of scam calls.
Keep your number private
Limit the sharing of your phone number online or in public spaces.
Update your phone’s security settings
Use features like spam filters and caller ID to screen calls effectively.

Return the calls that matter

Identifying “who called me from this phone number” is an essential skill in the digital age, especially given the rise in scam calls, including the notorious Amazon scam calls. By using online tools, staying vigilant, and following best practices for phone security, you can protect yourself.
But hopefully most of the calls you receive will be from friends and family. And when you miss a call from someone you care about, they’ll be happy if you call them back! If you’re on a pay-as-you-go phone, you can top up your credit online at mobiletopup.co.uk.

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