As I sat down to write, my phone pinged with a text supposedly from a well-known delivery company saying I needed to pay a £2.99 fee otherwise my parcel would be returned to the sender.
There is no parcel — I deleted the message immediately.
This is yet another of those horrible scams that asks you to follow a link and pay just a small amount of money.
But then criminals get hold of your bank details and clean out your account.
Like so many of us, I regularly get this kind of seemingly credible text message on my phone.
I get calls, too, from scammers claiming to be from my bank, or HMRC or some other institution.
The person on the other end of the line invariably wants to help me with some problem that involves my finances.
As I sat down to write, my phone pinged with a text supposedly from a well-known delivery company saying I needed to pay a £2.99 fee otherwise my parcel would be returned to the sender, writes ANGELA RIPPON
But I know that their true intention is to steal as much of my money as they can get away with.
What a truly awful by-product of the pandemic this form of criminal activity is. Fraud has boomed during the covid crisis, with losses hitting a record £2 billion.
That is why it’s imperative the Government does something to stem this pernicious tide. And I’m delighted the Daily Mail is highlighting this vital issue.
The various financial institutions I’ve spoken to about this problem all agree that Covid has been a huge pay day for scammers.
Why might that be? Well, lockdown, by its nature, made it difficult for all of us, whatever our age or circumstances, to be with our families, friends and colleagues.
Isolation meant people of every generation felt more vulnerable — and vulnerability is exactly what fraudsters look for in their next potential victim. Your defences are already down.
These criminals are ruthless and highly motivated. When it comes to getting hold of your cash, they will use whatever devious and unscrupulous means necessary to get it.
Their weapon of choice is fear. They’ll claim someone’s hacked your bank details so you must urgently move your savings to a safe holding account; or that you’re on the brink of being taken to court for not paying part of a tax bill; or that your computer’s security has been compromised and you need to give all sorts of personal details so they can offer urgently needed help in putting things right.
In other words, they frighten the life out of you, making you feel like the bailiffs are on their way over, or that your life savings are about to disappear.
They don’t give you time to think. It takes a strong person to say, hang on, I don’t believe you, in the face of all that. Or someone who simply knows what the signs you’re being conned are — awareness really is key.
When I get a scamming call I tell them: ‘If you have my number then you’ll also have my name.
‘And so, you’ll know I’m Angela Rippon and a presenter on Rip Off Britain who knows exactly what you’re up to.’ Down goes the phone.
Other people use my name too. My friend overheard a conversation between two ladies on the bus the other day talking about how one of them got a call from a scammer trying to get her bank details.
Which? highlighted concerns over ‘recovery fraud’, when victims are targeted again by scammers pretending to help them recoup their cash
She told him: ‘I watch that Angela Rippon on the telly and so I know that this is a scam’ before putting the phone straight down.
Anyone being cold-called regarding anything that involves their finances should do the same.
Remember, your bank will never call and ask you to hand over account numbers or say you must swap money from one account to another.
In that kind of situation, the answer, always, is put the phone down, go to your own material and get the number you know to be correct and call the bank yourself.
Don’t use a number given to you by the cold caller, or even call back on the number that’s appeared on your phone, which might have been cloned and so only leads you straight back to the scammer.
Use your own documents so you know the number is safe.
I know it’s easy to feel impotent in the face of all this — but we can protect ourselves from these scams.
Key is never assuming anything that comes to you via your phone or through the post is genuine if it’s asking about money or your financial affairs.
Always stand back, ask family, a friend or even a neighbour to take a look.
Once you get someone you trust involved with something like this you instantly become less vulnerable — which is precisely what these scammers do not want.