TELEPHONE SCAMS: I have recently received two scam calls on our ex-directory landline. The first was a very threatening recorded message purporting to come from HMRC. The male voice told me in no uncertain terms that there was a warrant out for my arrest because there was a legal case to be filed in my name. He went on to say that, because I had been notified, I had to call HMRC on the number he then provided before signing off with “Don’t ignore”.
I looked into the matter and discovered that it was a scam. I discovered that there is another similar scam where the call is from Officer Sarah Wilson from HMRC urging you to call your solicitor or call her back on the provided number. The warning is simple “If you or your solicitor does not call us back, then get ready to face the legal consequences!” In either case, HANG UP.
Obviously, telephoning the number firstly informs the scammer that you actually exist and can lead to a barrage of further scams and, secondly, you could be lured into parting with sensitive information such as your bank details.
How do you spot a scam? Always suspect any call that comes out of the blue. Try to verify the caller by asking them a question that only the genuine caller could answer. For example, “What’s my tax reference number?” If in doubt, hang up, wait 5 minutes and ring the supposed caller on a genuine number, as found on your tax code statement or similar. If you cannot confirm the identity, and are asked to provide personal details, hang up. The HMRC will never contact you without quoting your tax reference number and they say that these scams generally target elderly and vulnerable people, so why did they ring me, and why did they think I was old and vulnerable?
Apparently, the scammers also use emails and texts in the form of “You are owed a tax rebate” or “You’re in trouble with HMRC”. In this case, report the matter to your Email provider (who can take the sender’s account down), inform the company which has been mimicked and report the matter to Action Fraud (0300 123 2040) as they liaise with the police and the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, building a clearer national picture of fraud and attempted fraud.
If the scammer is trying to make you telephone a premium rate telephone number, hang up and ring the PSA (Phone-paid Services Authority) on 0300 303 0020.
The second scam call I received A call was received from BT Broadband telling me that my broadband would be cut off today because of semi-legal activity in your area. I was told to press 1 to talk to an advisor. Had I done so, problems would have started (They would know I exist and they would try to extort money). This scam is now so common that BT have introduced a website on bt.com for reporting scam calls.
The Isle of Man On a lighter note, Management and I recently spent five days on The Isle of Man with our good friends, Judith, Sue and Rod. I have wanted to visit the island for 60 years as it is a haven of steam trains and electric trams and the others were kind enough to humour me. We had a fantastic time and really enjoyed the 1950’s character of the place, the absence of intrusive Health and Safety, and the fact that there was absolutely no reference anywhere to the EU or Brexit.
I was surprised to learn the the I.O.M. is a self-governing British Crown Dependency (as are Jersey and Guernsey). It is not, and never has been, part of the United Kingdom, nor is it part of the EU. It is not represented in Westminster of in Brussels. The people who live there are called Manx and the currency is the Manx pound. It has its own health service which has a reciprocal agreement with t he NHS over here.The famous Manx TT motorcycle races bring many visitors and have claimed 252 lives over the years. During WW II it was a massive concentration camp for prisoners of war and “undesirables”. The owners of hotels were given a week to find themselves alternative accommodation and they had to leave behind all their bedding, crockery, cutlery etc for the use of the prisoners. The owners of 450 bungalows were similarly turfed out to provide accommodation for the guards. Lots of information on line if you are interested.
Three sons left home and succeeded in their chosen careers. They decided to give presents to their Mum as a thank you for bringing them up. One built her a big house, the second provided a Mercedes and chauffeur and, as his Mum was religious, the third gave her a parrot which could recite the entire Bible. It had taken the church elders 12 years to teach the parrot the entire Bible.Mum sent letters of thanks; the house was too big and she could only live in one room – the Mercedes chauffeur was so rude that she would not use him; to the third son, she wrote “Dear David, Thank you so much for the chicken – it was delicious!”
Best wishes to you all Ian Nisbet