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Honesty Day: Common Telephone Scams

Honesty Day is a national day in America, on 30 April, but it also marks the perfect opportunity to look at common telephone scams that can have a global impact, and that affect businesses here in the UK.

While some forms of scamming are based on long-established tactics, others are relatively new. This makes it harder for businesses and organisations to keep up. The most important thing, then, is to recognise your own vulnerabilities and act to protect yourself.

Fortunately, with modern VoIP telephone systems, there are various features which can provide help and support in protecting businesses from scammers. These include call handling, caller ID and call recording.

Using Persuasion

Scammers will use a range of persuasive techniques, similar to those used by legitimate businesses and salespeople. Telephone scams may focus on the idea of supporting a good cause, such as supporting a local charity or school. In some cases, scammers will have persuaded a genuine charity to be involved, lending credibility to their scam.

Another form of persuasion is for scammers to associate themselves with authority, making reference to government or local authority schemes, or claiming approval by the police or health services for their cause.

They may claim to be offering an essential service to help you with some area of compliance, such as filing reports with official bodies. It always makes sense to deal with any such regulatory or official bodies direct, and not rely on someone claiming to act as an intermediary.

There are also more obvious sales techniques used by scammers, such as making a limited offer, where you must agree or miss the deadline for when the offer closes.

Another technique is to use employees against one another, by calling different people in a business and suggesting that one person has already authorised, approved of, or committed to an agreement.

This divide and conquer approach can be effective for scammers, even in smaller businesses, if it allows them to get a foot in the door. Some telephone scams are common to both domestic and business users; some are specifically business-targeted.

Business Listings Scams

This is a common scam aimed at small business owners. The caller informs you that there is a problem with your business listing on Google, or another search engine, which can be solved, at a price.

Essentially, the scam caller is looking to get credit card information from you. A similar technique is to offer you a listing in a business directory, either published or online.

The request may at first appeal simple, offering a free listing, but the small print may in fact commit you to hundreds of pounds for single entry. The directory may exist, but compared to established search engines, is it likely to lead to more business for you?

Computer and IT Support

This telephone scam is common to both domestic and business users. Here the scammer is trying to gain access to your computer. The caller may say they have detected a virus on the computer, or some other network issue such as a slow internet connection.

Normally, they will be claiming to represent a major name, such as Microsoft. Similar to a normal sales technique, they want you to take a specific action: this might be to download software, or to allow them to gain remote access to your computer.

 Bank Account Security Breaches

Again, this scam applies to both business and domestic phone users. The scammer impersonates your bank and alerts you to a security breach on your account. To fix the breach, you will need to supply your account details, including login details and PIN.

Another scam is to state that your credit card needs replacing because of the bank detecting fraudulent activity on it. Claiming to be the bank, or even the police, the scammer informs you that they will send a courier to collect the old card and arrange for a new one. This allows them to gain card and address details.

In reality, banks will never ask you for PIN or login details, nor will the police.

Investment Scamming

Common telephone scams are often to offer an investment opportunity to businesses. This kind of opportunity might be to do with land or shares, or even things like carbon credits.

Usually, the kind of returns mentioned are unrealistically high, while also stating that the risk of losing money is minimal. Basically, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Business Loans

Scammers call businesses offering exciting new loans, or alternatives to conventional bank loans. Alternatively, they may pretend to be from someone claiming an existing loan is outstanding. Again, the call is designed to extract money or bank account details from you.

Telesales Scams and Call Recording

Telesales is the perfect mechanism for scammers to extract money from businesses fraudulently. One technique is for the scammer to claim that they have made an agreement with you and use this to exert pressure for payment. This is why call recording features are critical, and an essential benefit of VoIP telephone systems.

By law, callers should identify who they are and which company they are calling from. Call recording allows the business being called to keep a clear record of what has been said. Often initial scam callers will transfer the call to someone else during the call, which means it is vital to always ask for the name of the next person on the line.

If the scammer claims someone has placed an order, then it is important to ask them for a copy of the recording; but routinely recording your own calls should provide a good degree of protection.

Protect Yourself with VoIP

Honesty is an admirable quality, but you cannot always rely on it in business. You need to be diligent to protect yourself against common telephone scams, but having the right kind of telecommunications system can provide you with the essential infrastructure to help you do this.

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