Protecting against phone scammers

GROCKLE

Registered User
Jul 7, 2021
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75
Switzerland

Protecting against phone scammers. BT Call Protect used effectively and successfully.

I have the full PoA for both health and wealth for my elderly sister who has advanced Alzheimer's and over the past two & half years have taken over the complete management of her life. Not easy, because I live permanently in Switzerland and she in South Devon. On top of that came Covid, so until this past June, I have not been able to visit her in person since December 2019.

She was forever being attacked by scammers, and after I obtained full PoA access to her accounts I set about putting a stop to it, including fighting with the banks to get help, virtually impossible on international call lines. I even created a new account and shifted all Bona Fide Direct Debits and income payments. However, new attempts kept being entered on the new account, which I promptly deleted. The problem was the phone scammers, phishing for bits and pieces of the house appliance information, bank account partial numbers building up enough information for their Database to send the inevitable letter "we will start to debit next week unless you cancel... ". Which my sister never did, she didn't understand what the letter was. She had lost several 1000s I estimate over time before I was able to stop all these debits. I also stopped all banking post to my sister's address, online access only, so she wouldn't have the number information anywhere. The biggest danger were still those "friendly" or "aggressively scary" phone call scammers.

What I did was the following. I have access to my sister's BT Account via the internet. She also has BT's Call Protect. I set it up first a list of VIP names of people I know who need to call her, then I set Call Protect to block all calls at any time of each day of the week. However, anyone in the VIP list can still get through. I tested this by waiting until she was once out of the house and then remove my VIP permission and tried to call her. Of course, it failed, I tried several numbers mobile and fixed phone numbers and suppressed number. Once I was sure, I reinstated myself. Fortunately, I am myself a pensioner, so I checked her BT callers every day and used the various scam caller check sites to see if the numbers were scammers. I also looked out for local area numbers, sometimes friends calling, maybe. These I rang and asked. Over time, I built up a VIP list of today 49 numbers, many of which I knew, Friends, Family, Doctor, Carer Management company etc. They all know they must use their registered phone number and NOT suppress their number. When I was over there this June, I was 11 days in the house, although daily scammers tried to call (I saw from the BT Website), not once did the phone ring unless it was a VIP person.
Mobile phones which were used to call, I entered in my WhatsApp Account and surprise, surprise, the pictures of these scammers sometimes appeared and their links to Facebook too. In one case I traced a potential scammer to his actual address in Bournemouth, know all scammer companies he has had in the past and also the court offences he has had. But he had only wanted to scam my sister, so no proof of anything.
For a while I reported every attempted scam call using the BT call, you can only Blacklist 100 numbers in your account you don't want to call you, useless, but you can report them to BT individually. Hope it has helped other persons.
Now the scam danger level seems to have dropped considerably. No longer are attempts being made to setup direct debits for "appliance and insurance" companies. I can sleep again at night, I still check the account daily, but now only once a day. The scammers can repeat their calls all they want, most of them are automated anyway.

So the bottom line is use BT Call Protect, set up a VIP list of callers and forbid any other callers including those who don't display their number. Only once did this happen that someone was trying to get through, then after a few attempts they used the number and I could call them back, it was someone from the Alzheimer's department from a hospital.
So I would say it is a pretty safe way to get peace of mind. It worked for me, but I am often using the computer, it was my profession. Ask for more information if it is not clear.
 
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GROCKLE

Registered User
Jul 7, 2021
131
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75
Switzerland

Controlling Direct Debits possible set up by phone scammers.​

Another suggestion, I mention I created a new bank account and moved all Bona Fide DDs and Income to it. However, I did retain the old Bank Account, for various reasons. I set up all the blocking restrictions on use, no internet, no cards , minimum amount, etc. Everything set to trigger warnings.

1) I found out that she did have some interest coming in there from an investment I didn't know about and which I was able to correct for future payments.
2) After I cancelled some charity DD's because now more finances are needed for care costs, refunds were made to the old account used.
3) It served as an information and control to the degree of success I was having with my telephone restrictions. There were initially one or two DD's which popped up and were promptly deleted.

It's been quiet there now for 8 months.
 

GROCKLE

Registered User
Jul 7, 2021
131
0
75
Switzerland

BT Call Protect used effectively and successfully - how?

BT Call Protect​

Create a BT Account if you don't already have one

Login to the BT Account

https://my.bt.com/s/apps/appsmybt/#/home

Your Products > Landline > Manage Landline > Call Protect > Manage

Your VIP numbers
(These are the numbers you always want to hear from)
Create your VIP List and allow these callers to bypass your Do Not Disturb Setting

Back to Your Do Not Disturb times
Manage and Turn on at All Times

Back to Your recently received calls
Manage or check them

Back to Blacklist Settings
Be careful here, Select your Blacklist, BUT

SELECT Carefully the Other types of calls
Choose which types of calls you still want to receive!
I would advise against not accepting either Withheld Numbers or International Calls.
(VIP International Callers still get through - this is what I use)

To check on potential Scam Callers use​

https://free-lookup.net REPORT EASY
https://who-called.co.uk REPORT EASY
https://whocalledmeuk.co.uk/ REPORT EASY
https://www.unknownphone.com REPORT EASY
https://findwhocallsyou.com REPORT EASY
https://www.shouldianswer.co.uk Complicated Review with questions and email ?
https://spamcalls.net/en/ REPORT EASY
https://community.talktalk.co.uk/t5/Check-and-Report/bd-p/check-and-report/ REPORT
https://phonenumber-lookup.co.uk/
https://scam-numbers.co.uk/ Hola?
https://www.tellows.co.uk
https://www.telguarder.com/uk/
https://www.phonenumbersearchuk.com
https://www.ourwatch.org.uk/crime-p...ts/scams/common-scams/stopping-nuisance-calls

To report a scam call go to​

https://www.bt.com/consumer/edw/scams/
 
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GROCKLE

Registered User
Jul 7, 2021
131
0
75
Switzerland

Just my experience,​

the problem with the bank accounts is as follows: If there is any record of the sort code and the account number around, the person is potentially in danger from being scammed.

1. Forget scratching the 3 digits away, just take the cards away from the person who has dementia
2. Remove all bank account paperwork and stop postal account notifications
3. Remove all online and wireless transaction possibilities on the account
4. If the person concerned needs cash, some banks offer cash cards which a trusted person can get money for them, the way that we do it. You cannot use them for online transactions or anything else.

The problem is the way the telephone scammers work,
There is a huge database behind them, a person may call on the basis that they say they are from the bank and there have been some strange activities on the account, we need to check the last four digits only for security reasons, but do not give the others. Thank you madam, your account is safe. But they have now part of the number the name, possibly they have asked this for security reasons and the last 4 digits,
A few weeks go by, another voice calls on another pretence about the renewal of a direct debit on your account, could we please check the first 4 digits. And so on they are slowly methodically building up a database.
Another will call to say that the Indesit Washing Machine insurance needs renewing, the called person says or is induced to say, I don't have an Indesit, I have a Hotpoint? Oh, how long have you had that then?
Another call, checking the address - more information.
More information for the database. When they have enough, a letter arrives in the post for the renewal of your Hotpoint appliance insurance, only xx per month from the account (your account), usually inceasing. If you don't agree with this, then call .... to cancel by yy/yy/2022 and of course you cannot reach them, failure to cancel with start the agreement and the Direct Debit will be setup.
The arrangements are often for Appliance Support or Service or similar names.
Typically, they are in operation for less than a year from the ones that I have traced, then a new company is formed, same or similar address, same CEO.
There are numerous scams out there, but they are all after your information and the information probably gets shared/reused even sold.

So I took the radical decision to put DO NOT DISTURB on my sister's phone using BT's Call Protect and only allow specified VIP persons/numbers to call her. You need to have Internet control of the BT Account to do this.
It worked for me and the scammers have dried up, but their automated systems still keep trying without success however the number of attempts per month has been reduced from 100 to about 30-40.

Protecting against phone scammers. BT Call Protect used effectively and successfully
BT Call Protect used effectively and successfully - how?

Once in early days, I saw a known scammer number trying to call my sister, I called her, engaged, it was 8 minutes before I got through to her. What did he want? Not sure was the answer, checking the address or something.
A few days later, a trusted friend found one of these contract letters in the post and almost immediately a Direct Debit had been entered onto the account, which I immediately deleted.
 
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GROCKLE

Registered User
Jul 7, 2021
131
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75
Switzerland

Who to enter in the VIP White List of Numbers who can call?​

  • Family all Landline and Mobile Numbers
  • Friends all Landline and Mobile Numbers you know
    ( but inform them so that they spread the word to other friends to get in touch with you asking for VIP status)
  • Doctors Surgery, (inform them that only this particular number can be used to call and not to suppress the number)
  • Lifeline Support Numbers, there are 3 if the person has the Lifeline service
  • AgeUK Office if you are using them
  • Other Support Carer Services
  • Preferred Taxi Service Numbers - who might need to call in
  • Hairdressers, Chiropodist, other services which might need to call in
  • ...
Only in 2 or 3 occasions in 18 months now did we miss a call, but initially you have to be vigilant and check the who call log. On was BG and they couldn't as yet fix on a number.

Inform them all that only a particular number can be used to call and not to suppress their number.
 

nitram

Registered User
Apr 6, 2011
29,925
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Bury
BT call protect is only available if you have an active BT service.

Plusnet is an el cheapo part of the BT group and has Plusnet call protect with the same facilities, unlike BT there is not a dedicated control panel and settings have to be made using menu options on 1572.
It can be enabled for free in 'call features' in the home phone control panel.


EE is also in the BT group and probably has an offering.

Adding a last answered call to diverted list when the number is withheld actually adds the calling number so be careful using this feature.
 
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GROCKLE

Registered User
Jul 7, 2021
131
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75
Switzerland

What's needed to protect you against Scam Callers:​

In my opinion, options managed by phone menu are not particularly useful.
Persons suffering progressive Alzheimer's won't be able to manage this either, and the supporting persons are not always present to make additions or modifications. There is also no overview. .

Basically, from my experience these past 2 years, you need the following:
  1. A facility to be able to turn on Do Not Disturb 24x7 permanently for all calls
  2. An online management of the callers - who called when - to check who is calling (more useful in the beginning)
  3. An easy way (online) of creating a White List (VIP) list of potential good callers because you are running on Do Not Disturb
This is the only way you can protect yourself properly against the scam call dangers, if they get through even once and gain some information, even if you block that number, you have potentially a problem, the next time they use another number.

In my particular instance, I need also to be able to manage this all from remote, since I live permanently in Switzerland. Even in these Pandemic travel restricted times, I was still able to manage everything.
So online is the only possibility. Fortunately my sister is on BT and has Call Protect which is I believe for free, even if it wasn't, I would pay for such a service but maybe expect a little more!
For example, the List of Callers is limited only to the last 20 numbers this should be extendable to at least the past month if not more and sortable, so it would be easier to evaluate certain calls.

BT Call Protect - 'How to...' guide
 
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GROCKLE

Registered User
Jul 7, 2021
131
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75
Switzerland

Arrange E-Mail access to your Doctor's Surgery?​

If calls are coming from the Doctors Surgery and being forgotten, I would suggest discussing with them to use E-Mail with you or that they call you instead as PoA?
Not possible in my case since I live in Switzerland. But I am using Egress for NHSmail an online service from Egress Software Technologies Ltd. for reading and composing secure emails in the browser, I have created an account with which I can communicate with the Surgery, it's not perfect, but I recently used it not to make an appointment but to submit the points for discussion for the appointment. I have also been able to make sure this way that the Doctor's Surgery is informed exactly how to communicate with my sister. It might be well investigating. But not all Doctors like this form of communication.
My PoA is of course registered with the Doctor's Surgery!
 
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GROCKLE

Registered User
Jul 7, 2021
131
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75
Switzerland

Investigating Mobile Phone Callers - also Potential Scammers who use their own to call you​

There is also always the uncertainty, that this is maybe the mobile phone of an acquaintance of the person you are "protecting", so how to investigate it.
Whilst you can search for Mobile Phone numbers in the scammer websites (I have posted in this thread). For such phones, it is unusual to find out any more information other than maybe the provider, i.e. EE or other, however, here is a tip which has worked on several occasions. Unless many people have reported them like I do if I find evidence of scammer behaviour.
  1. Add the mobile phone of the caller from your call lists to your mobile phone contacts list, I use a name like AColdCallerddmmyyyy, so I can easily identify them and when they called at another date.
  2. If he/she has WhatsApp then it might show up almost immediately, you can then go into WhatsApp and look to see if the person has anything written in their profile, or a photo, maybe. It's amazing how careless some of them are. If you want, you can block the person in your WhatsApp. You might even recognize the person as an acquaintance of the person you are protecting.
  3. I leave it there, sometimes at a future date, I get offers from Facebook to maybe follow AColdCallerddmmyyyy, I don't but, you often recognize the person by the WhatsApp profile picture. And behind Facebook is often a lot more information too. You don't need to follow the person, it depends on his/her settings as to how much you can see.
In one particular case, I found out his real name, location, I was able to track down companies he was the CEO of, another company a year previously, all Appliance "Insurance" scam companies. The companies were registered at an address in Bournemouth. The same person of that address was known to the police for being drunk and disorderly on at least 3 occasions.

But despite all this information, there was nothing I could do because he was only wanting to commit a scam and I hadn't allowed him to do so. ;)

In other cases, from the pictures, it was obvious they weren't persons who would not have any good reason to call my sister, so no need to contact them, or maybe yes, inquire and maybe add them to the VIP White List.

Hope this tip helps?
 

Jaded'n'faded

Registered User
Jan 23, 2019
5,227
0
High Peak
Just a couple of things @GROCKLE ....

With your IT background, all the things you advocate are easily done for you. Some of us are not tech-minded! I work on my computer all day but would be stumped trying to put the sort of things in place that you have done. (Our friend @nitram can do it all but many of us can't!)

And I can't help thinking your sister is remarkably compliant. You mention not scratching the last 3 numbers off a debit card but simply removing the card from the person. Believe me, that is much easier said than done for many people here on TP who have had similar problems with scams, controlling unwise spending, etc. Many people with dementia are completely paranoid about money, believing others are trying to steal from them, etc. Taking a card off someone with those ideas would lead to much anger, possible aggression and goodness knows what else.

I do applaud your efforts re. scams and protecting your sister but there is no one 'right' way to do things because everyone with dementia is different. (And not everyone uses BT...!)
 

GROCKLE

Registered User
Jul 7, 2021
131
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75
Switzerland
Dear "Jade", thanks for your feedback.
What I have tried to explain is not IT rocket science but came out of necessity because of the remote distance living in Switzerland and then being unable to visit my sister for 2 1/2 years because of the pandemic and needed to protect her. I was losing a lot of sleep fighting the scammers, no sooner had I sorted out one, another rogue Direct Debit was being fed in. I had to think of manageable ways to protect her with the tools I had available.

Fortunately, I have also had a couple of good trusted "foot soldiers" on the ground, a couple of ladies, friends of my sister from the local church. One of them has the Cash card, my sister was no longer able to use the card anyway to type in the PIN even after we exchanged the Debit Card for the Cashpoint card. Having PoA access to the account I stopped all paper statements, made a new account, froze the debit cards, had the card replaced with the cashpoint card which is now solely managed by the trusted friend. I see all transactions. Now, shopping is also mainly being done by the daily carer service. She has now 24x7: 1hr + 30mins visits.

In the case of my sister, I suspect she was already more advanced with her dementia. Already when signing the PoA in June 2019, she asked why are we at the solicitors, because of the will? but we know the solicitor, and she had recently done the will with her a couple of years ago. Compliant, yes, she didn't complain. Yes, she trusted us. I had to organize taking her car away remotely, too. That wasn't easy but with the help of the garage, we sold it, anyway she had forgotten to renew her licence.

The proposal to scratch off the 3 numbers doesn't serve any protective purpose to stop Direct Debits, only if you make an online transaction. Freeze the cards. But change the account, make it paperless, remove traces of the account number.
And if you have a telephone system which supports it, it doesn't have to be BT Call Protect, make the phone Do Not DIsturb, other than the selected trusted few numbers.
Just stop these phone scammers getting through to the PWD in the first place.

I'm not saying the way I used is the only one and the right one, but it certainly was a very successful solution for me and I wanted to share the information and encourage others to think about what they can do to protect their suffering PWD relatives. Of course, I investigated further in some cases, as a challenge. But if you stick to even the basics described above, it will help you both as PoA and the PWD you are protecting. Until recently, I checked and reported every person who had some scammer reputation to increase their bad scammer reputation, but I have paused that for a moment.

I might add, I moved every item that she pays or receives as income to paperless. She doesn't think about money or worry about it any more, there are no bills, Even her beloved Radio Times still arrives which she reads 100x from cover to cover but can only use the default channel on the TV although many more would be possible. Some limited Post is sent to me, c/o me, at my Swiss address.
I was 11 days with my sister in June 2022, I saw that there is minimal post, just flyers and zero unwanted phone calls coming in.

I would like to add, if anything is unclear about how I have set things up, I am wiling to elaborate in more detail.
 
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GROCKLE

Registered User
Jul 7, 2021
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75
Switzerland

Do you use a unique pet personal name, nickname for the PWD which you use when phoning?​

My sister is10 years older than me, I have a name I used to call her when I was a little boy, when I call her now, I always use it, Hi **********... Until now, I always get a response, Oh Hi ******* using my real name.
Nobody else calls her this.
It's a name with a bond between us, and when she no longer recognizes me, then I will start to be worried. She could also be recognizing my voice too. ;)

If you think about it, it not only gives you maybe a measure of the level of dementia, but also maybe is a form of protection of someone impersonating you. It's at least a memory from the past which might be remembered a long time.
 

Jaded'n'faded

Registered User
Jan 23, 2019
5,227
0
High Peak

Do you use a unique pet personal name, nickname for the PWD which you use when phoning?​

My sister is10 years older than me, I have a name I used to call her when I was a little boy, when I call her now, I always use it, Hi **********... Until now, I always get a response, Oh Hi ******* using my real name.
Nobody else calls her this.
It's a name with a bond between us, and when she no longer recognizes me, then I will start to be worried. She could also be recognizing my voice too. ;)

If you think about it, it not only gives you maybe a measure of the level of dementia, but also maybe is a form of protection of someone impersonating you. It's at least a memory from the past which might be remembered a long time.
Long may it continue :)
 

DreamsAreReal

Registered User
Oct 17, 2015
476
0
Thank you @GROCKLE for these useful posts. It's an absolute scandal how there are so many of these scam callers and the authorities don't seem interested in tackling them.

I bought mum a BT call guardian phone and that stopped them coming through. I didn't know about all these things you've done. You'd think BT would advertise it more.
 

GROCKLE

Registered User
Jul 7, 2021
131
0
75
Switzerland
Thank you @GROCKLE for these useful posts. It's an absolute scandal how there are so many of these scam callers and the authorities don't seem interested in tackling them.

I bought mum a BT call guardian phone and that stopped them coming through. I didn't know about all these things you've done. You'd think BT would advertise it more.
Although I found out and implemented this strategy all by myself, I found out that Martin Lewis
had reported on it in 2017, updated in 2019. But the blacklist information is useless with only 100 entries, I would need over 1000! If it is true what is implied, by reporting the scam callers and many persons report the same number then the number becomes registered with BT as a scam caller, but I was seeing up to 100 calls a month, sometimes the same number, sometimes very similar numbers. BT Call Protect is free.
https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/mobiles/no-more-junk/
 

Lawson58

Registered User
Aug 1, 2014
4,239
0
Victoria, Australia
Just a couple of things @GROCKLE ....

With your IT background, all the things you advocate are easily done for you. Some of us are not tech-minded! I work on my computer all day but would be stumped trying to put the sort of things in place that you have done. (Our friend @nitram can do it all but many of us can't!)

And I can't help thinking your sister is remarkably compliant. You mention not scratching the last 3 numbers off a debit card but simply removing the card from the person. Believe me, that is much easier said than done for many people here on TP who have had similar problems with scams, controlling unwise spending, etc. Many people with dementia are completely paranoid about money, believing others are trying to steal from them, etc. Taking a card off someone with those ideas would lead to much anger, possible aggression and goodness knows what else.

I do applaud your efforts re. scams and protecting your sister but there is no one 'right' way to do things because everyone with dementia is different. (And not everyone uses BT...!)
I am sort of OK doing many things online but all the very helpful stuff would be totally beyond me. By the time I had done all that, I would be tearing my hair out.

However, there are two simple things you can do to help, in my experience.

No credit cards only use a debit card. Then have that attached to a current account that has limited funds to pay everyday things and regular direct debits. These simple things can limit your losses if you lose your card and not run you into debt with credit.
 

GROCKLE

Registered User
Jul 7, 2021
131
0
75
Switzerland
I am sort of OK doing many things online but all the very helpful stuff would be totally beyond me. By the time I had done all that, I would be tearing my hair out.

However, there are two simple things you can do to help, in my experience.

No credit cards only use a debit card. Then have that attached to a current account that has limited funds to pay everyday things and regular direct debits. These simple things can limit your losses if you lose your card and not run you into debt with credit.
Dear Lawson,

With all respect, replacing the credit cards with debit cards doesn't help at all protecting against with phone scamming. My sister only had a debit card. And if you end up with illegal Direct Debits entered on that account and they are not fulfilled because of lack of funds, there will be nasty debt collection letters for unpaid DD bills! I'm not sure if you are in control of that, and you need to be daily checking the account. Easy with the Apps, I know but?
The situation with the PWD you are protecting will sadly get worse.
In a nutshell, do at least the basics:
  1. Make the phone Do Not DIsturb, other than the selected trusted few numbers.
    If you can, organize a telephone system which supports it, it doesn't have to be BT Call Protect. Just remove the possibility for phone scammers to call in the first place.
  2. Change the bank account = a new number, leave the old account with 99p on it in case of maybe unknown interest payments, refunds or other income. You will notice any attempted DD immediately.
  3. Move all existing Bona Fide DD's to the new account.
  4. In the process, Check all those existing Direct Debit's in particular," insurance" and "appliance", my sister had 24, I soon had it down to 16, now it is 10 because I have sadly had to cancel some charities to pay for the extra daily care.
  5. Freeze the cards, Credit and Debit. If she needs cash and can still use a PIN, then replace with a Cashpoint Card.
  6. Make the account paperless, remove traces of the account number and access it online, you will need PoA for this to have your own account access.
Just try to stop these phone scammers getting through to the PWD in the first place.

Believe me, I had a lot of sleepless nights before I put this protection in place and yes, it is a radical solution but is unfortunately necessary for you if not now, it soon will be. You need to make preparations. .
Once the first flow of information to the scammers happens, it becomes a saleable item and there will be other scams from sister companies or companies who have purchased the information.
 
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Dunroamin

Registered User
May 5, 2019
405
0
UK
This is a worry for me. ATM I dont really answer the phone, but I am sure there will become a time when I become more vulnerable. Wewill look at BT call protect although we will also look into the DND possibility as Nitram suggests
 

Lawson58

Registered User
Aug 1, 2014
4,239
0
Victoria, Australia
Many BT phones can do this using numbers stored in phone's contact list e.g.
Obviously, because I live in Australia I have a different Telco provider and diligently registered with Do No Call system we use. That worked for a while but then the scammers started using different ways of getting around it and will continue to find ways of getting around it in the future.

I simply don’t answer any number I don’t recognise and then block it. OH uses the old landline number and answers only the numbers he recognises. If he is feeling in a good mood, he will answer the scammers but in his appalling Spanish. Or sometimes he pretends it‘s someone he knows and asks how the wife is, how the children are until the caller gets so frustrated they hang up.

To be honest all this mass of information Grockle has so diligently laid out makes my head spin but perhaps things are easier for me because we have a joint account so I am not trying to do all this from a distance. And OH leaves all the banking to me anyway.

The other thing is that my account is not structured like most other traditional banks do things. On my one account, I have 4 subsections but only one of those is a current account accessible by card. The others are a high(er) interest bearing account, one is a holiday account that gets locked up until the date that I had preset and the other is a convenience account.

Technology makes life difficult for older people to manage successfully. I know people who can’t even send a SMS so how can they cope with all this. Anyway, I quite often get a little buzz on my smartwatch telling me that a scam call has been identified and deleted.