Phone scams

Telephone scams come in many forms. Con artists may email you to get hold of your personal details, but they may also use the telephone to cheat you out of your money.

Every year, thousands of people fall victim to phone scams. Some lose only a few euros, others their entire life savings. We’ve listed the most common types of telephone scams for you.

Microsoft callers – phony phone tech support
These con artists cold-call you on the telephone and claim to be from Microsoft. They offer tech support, but what they’re really after is your money or your personal particulars.

Don’t allow them access to your computer, don’t let them install any software programme and never pass on your bank details.

This type of cold calls is known as Microsoft calls. Visit the Microsoft website for tips and more information about the methods used by these scammers, who operate globally.

Special offers
These phone scams might attract you with a special offer, which can be anything, ranging from cheap loans to lottery tickets.

You’ll be given little or no time to think about the offer. The scammers just want you to say “yes” or go along with their story. Some crooks will direct you to a website which contains reviews from “satisfied customers.” This website and these customers are likely as fake as the offers made by the scammer at the other end of the line.

Lottery scams
You may receive an email congratulating you on being the lucky winner of a major prize, but you may also be told via an SMS text message. Either way, you’re dealing with a lottery scam. Don’t reply. Remember you can never win a prize in any lottery if you haven’t taken part in it.

Call-back scams
If you see a missed phone call from an unknown number, you might be tempted to call them back. Don’t! The call has been placed by scammers, who’re dialing blocks of random phone numbers with the use of auto-dial devices. The phone typically rings once, then disconnects and the fraudsters hope that the owners of some of those numbers will then be curious enough to call back.

If they do, they’ll be calling a foreign phone number and are stuck with hefty charges. The scammers will try to keep you on the line for as long as possible while they rack up the international call tolls. When you hear the phone ringing continuously at the other end, you might well be listening to a recorded message.

Signs of a phone scam

Scammers will do anything to get hold of your money. Some seem very friendly. They may call you by your first name and start a little chat. The con artists seem to have a preference for older people. The callers assume that senior citizens are single and have money. Furthermore, older people are generally believed to be more friendly towards strangers.

Any pressure to pass on your personal information should set the alarm bells ringing. Hang up when you’re asked to give you bank account number, credit card details or Citizen Service Number (BSN).

Other typical phrases that help you recognise telemarketing scams:

  • You’ve been specially selected (for this offer).
  • You’ll get a nice gift if you buy our product.
  • You’re one of the lucky winners.
  • You’ve won a major prize in a foreign lottery.
  • You have to make a decision immediately.


Tips

  • Telemarketers are required by law to indicate that it’s a sales pitch. They must also give their names as well the name of the company they’re working for. If you don’t hear this information, hang up immediately.
  • Don’t give out your credit card information, bank account details or Citizen Service Number (BSN). Don’t disclose them even if they ask you to “confirm” this information.
  • Resist the pressure to make a decision immediately. Most legitimate businesses will give you time as well as written information about the offer so that you can make up your mind.
  • Don’t pay for something just because you’ll get a “free gift.”
  • Ask for information in writing before you accept the offer.
  • If the offer is an investment, check with the Netherlands Financial Markets Authority (AFM) to see if the company making the offer is properly registered.
  • People who phone you saying they are law enforcement officers offering to “help” you get your lost money back “for a fee” are crooks.