‘A horrible thought’ Scam warning as grandmother inundated with calls from fraudsters

Martin Lewis shares tips for checking scams

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Worryingly, the coronavirus pandemic and resultant lockdowns have created an environment in which fraudsters can thrive. And the reality of increasing scam contacts is stark. According to new research commissioned by fraud fighting specialists Individual Protection Solutions (IPS), two thirds of people receive a scam contact at least once a week, most often via email, phone or text message.

Of those surveyed, 30 percent are more worried about scams since the beginning of the pandemic.

More than half (52 percent) of people over the age of 55 will avoid answering the phone in case it is a scammer, the study found.

Understandably, it’s a huge concern for many, and scam attempts can have a huge impact on everyday life.

That’s something Charlie Shakeshaft, the CEO of Individual Protection Solutions (IPS), is familiar with.

He founded IPS after this grandmother was left distraught by relentless scam calls.

During an exclusive interview with Express.co.uk, he recalls learning about the scam attempts while visiting his grandmother for a Sunday lunch.

When he arrived, she was on the phone, and visibly distressed.

He’d never seen her like that before, and Charlie remembers: “That happening was obviously shocking to me.

“So I asked her what the matter was, and she essentially said it was another scam caller, and she gets like 30 of them a day to her landline.

“She didn’t have a mobile at the time, and she didn’t know what to do about it.

“It was clearly causing her a lot of mental strain.”

“It’s a pretty horrible thought isn’t it, seeing your grandma that stressed from receiving these calls,” he adds.

While Charlie was aware of different options available to halt cold calls, his grandmother was not.

Thankfully, they sat down together and took action to improve her security.

“I sat down with her for half an hour and showed her what to and how to do it,” he recalls.

“We actually implemented two things – that was the Telephone Preference Service [TPS], which is the government’s opt-out scheme to help stop legal cold calls, and then she was with BT and we put a BT call blocker on her landline.

“Within a few weeks, the problem for her was completely gone.”

Charlie also explained: “She never actually became a victim of a scam, which is lucky for her.”

With scams being so common, the challenges his grandmother faced in stopping the calls was of huge concern.

“The main thing was she didn’t know what to do about it, and that was the worrying part,” he says.

“It’s the biggest crime now – one in three crimes is now fraud.

“People know how to secure their house, they know how to put locks on their door or put security systems in place.

“Protecting your data is such a jargon-filled world. Cybersecurity is a scary word to people.”

It prompted Charlie to found Individual Protection Solutions, which was created as “a community to campaign for consumer rights, to increase awareness and take back control”.

“My grandma has no interest in learning about cybersecurity or anything like that, but the threat of scams is as real for her as it is for anyone, including me, including you,” he says.

“It’s a problem we’re all facing now.

“The information and tools are out there for people to use. We’ve found they are mostly available to more of a tech audience with the onus on the individual to learn about the tools and then how to implement them.

“So at IPS – Individual Protection Solutions – we want to provide simple, straightforward solutions that help the large majority get protected, without having to learn cybersecurity, or do research into the area.”

Charlie thinks his grandmother probably signed up to a questionnaire or something on the internet years ago, which is how scammers eventually got hold of her data.

“There are these legacy data lists which get shared around and it’s the non-compliant companies that eventually get hold of these lists,” he explains.

“Eventually, scammers get their hands on it, and that’s usually the reason for people receiving a load of cold calls.”

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