Have you ever received a call from an unknown number that claimed to be from a reputable company or organization, and asked you to provide personal or financial information? If so, you might have been targeted by a phone scam. Phone scams are a form of fraud that use deception and manipulation to trick people into giving away their money or identity. In this article, we will explore the rising tide of phone scams, focusing on one particular number that has been reported by many victims: 02045996870. We will also look at how the scam works, what tactics are used, and how to protect yourself from falling prey to it.
The Rising Tide of Phone Scams
What are Phone Scams?
Phone scams are a type of social engineering attack that use the phone as a medium to communicate with potential victims. The scammers usually pretend to be someone else, such as a government official, a bank employee, a tech support agent, or a charity worker, and use various techniques to persuade the victim to comply with their requests. These requests may include:
- Asking for personal or financial information, such as bank account details, credit card numbers, passwords, or PINs.
- Asking for payment of a fee, a tax, a fine, or a donation, usually through an untraceable method, such as a wire transfer, a prepaid card, or a gift card.
- Asking for access to the victim’s computer or mobile device, either by sending a link, an attachment, or a code, or by instructing the victim to download a software or an app.
- Asking for the victim to confirm or verify their identity, their account, or their subscription, by providing a code, a password, or a link.
The scammers may use various tactics to make their calls seem legitimate, such as:
- Spoofing the caller ID, which means displaying a fake number or name on the victim’s phone screen, to make it appear as if the call is coming from a trusted source.
- Using voice synthesis, which means using a computer-generated voice that mimics a human voice, to sound more convincing or to impersonate a specific person or accent.
- Using recorded messages, which means playing a pre-recorded message that prompts the victim to press a button or call back a number, to create a sense of urgency or authority.
- Using personal information, which means using the victim’s name, address, or other details that they may have obtained from public sources, such as social media, online directories, or data breaches, to make the call seem more personalized or relevant.
The Increase in Reported Incidents
Phone scams are not a new phenomenon, but they have become more prevalent and sophisticated in recent years, due to the advancement of technology and the availability of information. According to the UK’s National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB), there were 2.6 million reports of phone scams in 2022, an increase of 33% from 2021. The NFIB estimates that phone scams cost the UK public £1.2 billion in 2022, an average of £464 per victim.
One of the most common types of phone scams reported in the UK is the HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) scam, which involves scammers posing as HMRC officials and demanding payment of a tax debt or a refund. Another common type is the Amazon Prime scam, which involves scammers claiming that the victim’s Amazon Prime subscription is about to expire or has been renewed, and asking for payment or cancellation.
The 02045996870 Number Scam
One of the most notorious phone numbers associated with phone scams in the UK is 02045996870. This number has been reported by hundreds of people on various websites, such as Who Called Me, Tellows, and Should I Answer, as a source of nuisance, harassment, and fraud. The number has been linked to various types of scams, such as:
- The HMRC scam, where the caller claims to be from HMRC and threatens the victim with legal action or arrest if they do not pay a tax debt or a fine.
- The Amazon Prime scam, where the caller claims to be from Amazon and informs the victim that their Prime subscription has been renewed or is about to expire, and asks for payment or cancellation.
- The BT scam, where the caller claims to be from BT and warns the victim that their internet connection or phone line has been compromised or is about to be disconnected, and asks for access to their computer or device.
- The Microsoft scam, where the caller claims to be from Microsoft and alerts the victim that their computer has a virus or a problem, and asks for access to their computer or device.
- The lottery scam, where the caller claims to be from a lottery company and congratulates the victim on winning a prize, and asks for payment of a fee or a tax to claim it.
The number 02045996870 is a London number, but it does not belong to any legitimate business or organization. It is most likely a spoofed number, which means that the scammers are using a software or a device to disguise their real number and location. The scammers may also use different numbers to call the same victim, or to target different victims, to avoid detection and blocking.
The Modus Operandi
How the Scam Works
The scam works by exploiting the victim’s emotions, such as fear, greed, curiosity, or sympathy, and by creating a sense of urgency, pressure, or opportunity. The scammers usually follow a script or a pattern, which may vary depending on the type of scam, but generally consists of the following steps:
- The scammers initiate the contact, either by calling the victim directly, or by leaving a voicemail or a text message, and ask the victim to call back or press a button.
- The scammers introduce themselves, either by using a fake name or a title, or by impersonating a specific person or organization, and state the reason for the call, either by making a false claim or a request, or by offering a benefit or a reward.
- The scammers ask the victim to provide personal or financial information, or to make a payment, or to grant access to their computer or device, either by using persuasion, deception, or intimidation, or by providing a false justification or a verification.
- The scammers confirm the information or the payment, or the access, either by thanking the victim, or by providing a confirmation number or a receipt, or by showing a fake result or a feedback.
- The scammers end the call, either by hanging up, or by transferring the victim to another scammer, or by asking the victim to wait or to call back later.
Common Tactics Used
The scammers use various tactics to make their calls seem more convincing and to manipulate the victim into complying with their requests. Some of the common tactics used are:
- Using a professional or a friendly tone, to make the victim feel more comfortable or trusting.
- Using a sense of urgency or a deadline, to make the victim feel more anxious or rushed.
- Using a sense of authority or a threat, to make the victim feel more obliged or scared.
- Using a sense of familiarity or a personal touch, to make the victim feel more special or valued.
- Using a sense of reciprocity or a reward, to make the victim feel more obliged or tempted.
- Using a sense of scarcity or a limited offer, to make the victim feel more eager or lucky.
- Using a sense of social proof or a testimonial, to make the victim feel more confident or reassured.
Red Flags to Look Out For
The scammers may use various tactics to make their calls seem more convincing, but they also leave some clues or signs that indicate that the call is not genuine. Some of the red flags to look out for are:
- The caller ID is unknown, unfamiliar, or suspicious, such as a number that does not match the claimed source, or a number that is similar to your own, or a number that is spoofed or hidden.
- The caller is vague, inconsistent, or evasive, such as a caller that does not provide a clear or a specific reason for the call, or a caller that changes the subject or the story, or a caller that refuses to answer your questions or to provide their details.
- The caller is pushy, demanding, or aggressive, such as a caller that pressures you to act quickly or to make a decision, or a caller that demands you to provide information or to make a payment, or a caller that threatens you with consequences or penalties.
- The caller is unprofessional, rude, or abusive, such as a caller that uses poor grammar or spelling, or a caller that uses inappropriate language or tone, or a caller that insults or mocks you.
- The caller is unrealistic, illogical, or contradictory, such as a caller that offers you something that is too good to be true, or a caller that asks you to do something that does not make sense, or a caller that contradicts themselves or their source.
Here are some tips to protect yourself from phone scams:
- Do not share personal information: Never share sensitive information like bank details, passwords, or OTPs over the phone.
- Verify caller identity: Always verify the caller’s identity through official channels before responding to their requests.
- Report suspicious calls: Report suspicious calls to relevant authorities or organizations to help prevent future scams.
- Install anti-spam apps: Utilize anti-spam applications that can help flag and block potential scam calls.
What to Do If You Encounter the 02045996870 Number
If you receive a call from the number 02045996870, do not engage in conversation. Disconnect the call immediately and report it to relevant authorities. Do not respond to any further calls or messages from this number.
The 02045996870 phone number serves as a stark reminder of the ever-present threat of phone scams. By understanding the modus operandi, recognizing red flags, and adopting precautionary measures, we can empower ourselves and collectively combat this growing menace. Remember, vigilance and awareness are key to staying safe in the digital landscape.