What to do when a scammer calls

Before July 2020, I had no idea that criminals had devised a way of getting you to part with your money by handing it to them. When the guy from the bank called to tell me he was my account officer and needed to clarify things with me concerning my finances, I believed him. I had just woken up from sleep, so I was still in a state of half-consciousness; I also had no idea that scam calls were a thing. Whenever I went to the bank, I neglected to read fliers warning against handing your information to criminals posing as bank officers. In hindsight, I wish I did.

My supposed account officer sent me a code and asked me to tell him what it was when I received it. I naively did. It was too late by the time I caught on to what he was doing. My money was gone, but thankfully, it wasn’t a lot, just N2000 that I planned to use for something fun and now lined the pockets of a criminal. When I got the alert, I was upset. In the description, the scammer wrote, “na you know”, a Nigerian slang for I don’t care or that’s your business. I raced to the bank to block my account and prevent another withdrawal because I was expecting money soon, I was told I wouldn’t get my money back, and I should have been more careful. I was so upset, and I felt stupid because I never thought anyone could trick me into giving up my money.

I have never invested in pyramid schemes, so it hurt that I fell for a scammer’s tricks. I started noticing all the fliers and signs that tell you not to trust strangers claiming to be bank officers with your information because the bank would never call you to check something.
I started paying more attention to these situations and realized many people have fallen for scam calls like this, especially the elderly, who are more vulnerable to these scams. Ruthless criminals prey on people’s fears concerning money by lying to them about situations that do not exist then con them out of their money.

There are different types of scam calls; there is the one-ring scam call; the goal of the one ring call is not to get you to answer but to get you to call back. It is usually a number you don’t recognize. It relies on your curiosity because you want to know who is called you. Once you call back, they get you to stay on the phone long enough to get your money. The only way to protect yourself from this type of scam is to not pick up calls from numbers you don’t recognize, especially international numbers. You could also google the number to see if it’s a spam number. Some apps help you identify spam numbers; a prevalent one is the Truecaller app.

Another way scammers can extort money from you via scam calls is posing as bank officers -the scam I fell for calling to tell you about an issue with your account. They get you to believe them by calling out your full name, BVN and the institution you bank with it in a bid to get you to trust them. They then proceed to scare you with news about unusual activity detected on your account that could land you in trouble with the law.

They also offer you a solution; they ask you to read out the numbers on your debit card, or an OTP sent to your phone, so they can rectify the problem. Handing them that information would be a fatal mistake on your part as they would take whatever is in your bank account within minutes.

You should never trust anyone with your bank details, no matter how convincing they sound on the phone, because they deploy several tricks to get you to part with sensitive information about your finances. Do not answer strange calls, and when you do, let the caller know you would go to the bank yourself to rectify any problem your account has, or you could waste their time by leading them to dead-ends if you are the type who wants to have a little fun.

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