How To Avoid Falling Prey To Fraudster Phone Calls

What happens during a scam call?

Someone may call you claiming to be from your bank or building society acting in your best interests. Their aim is to find out your personal details including your account number, PIN number and 3 digital number on the back of your bank card. In short, they are after all the numbers they will need to access your bank account easily and transfer your money to them.

What is the most common type of fraudulent call?

When the scammer calls, they will claim they have noticed an unusual payment from your bank account and that they would like to investigate in on your behalf. They will claim they need your bank details so they ‘can catch the person or persons involved.’ To encourage you to hand over your details, they will tell a rather credible story. It is at this point that vulnerable people are often taken in.

What are they likely to say to make them sound genuine?

As most of us know that our banks would never contact us over the phone and ask us for personal information, the scammer may invite you to call the phone number on the back of your bank card to confirm the call is ‘genuine.’ When you do make the call to this number, the scammer holds the line open and intercepts the call so that you are put back either to the scammer or an accomplice, when you think you have been put through to your actual bank.

Who does this usually happen to?

Often thieves will target the vulnerable people in our community: the elderly will often fall prey to this type of crime.

Are there different types of fraudulent crime?

Yes, there are three that are the most widely reported by victims. However, scammers try to come up with new ways all the time, so you should stay vigilant.

1. Scammers may send a courier to come and pick up your bank card from you personally once you have given them your PIN number over the phone. To make the story seem even more credible, the driver might not know he is part of a scam.

2. Some victims are asked to purchase an expensive item on behalf of the scammer posing as the bank who wants to ‘catch the criminal by then handing over the item to see if they will take it.’ The courier (often unknowingly a part of the scam) comes to collect the item to ‘pass it on to the bank’ when it is the scammer who actually collects it from the other end.

3. Victims are sometimes asked to transfer their entire account to a ‘safe account’ due to a supposed corruption at the bank. The money is directly transferred into the scammers bank account elsewhere.

If you know someone who may be elderly or vulnerable, remind them to stay vigilant when answering the phone to people they don’t know claiming they are from their bank or building society.

Banks will NEVER ask for your personal information over email or phone which includes your PIN number and bank details.

Goodness – Where Does It Come From?

We can find plenty of goodness in the world. Human patience, generosity, forgiveness, and tolerance abound. It’s just as well. How else could we hope to tackle crime, moderate the effects of tyranny, lessen terrorism, and decrease warfare? Bad things if left to themselves will go their own ‘unsweet way’ and cause immense hardship, pain and suffering.

Just as humanity does humane things, it does inhumane things as well. People may do good things. People also cause social evil. Our main hope is that more of us behave a lot better. Act with more consideration than thoughtlessness; more compassion than indifference; and more love than hate. But how optimistic can we be? This may depend on where goodness itself comes from. Is it inherent in human beings or does it originate from beyond us all?

Here are five different ways of thinking about this question. Take your pick as to which is more convincing.

Scientific perspective on goodness
The atheist evolutionist finds no difficulty in accounting for pain, hatred and evil. These are woven into the fabric of evolutionary theory. His problem is: where did love, altruism and good originate? It is theorised that goodness is nothing more than a natural instinct. One that protects oneself and one’s near relatives for the sake of survival.

Humanistic perspective on goodness
We all have a strong sense of living from ourselves. This attitude is perhaps not surprising. Each of us is aware of being a separate self-contained individual; one with a mind and body of one’s own quite apart from other people and all else in nature.

So we see ourselves as the origin of our thinking and willing. These are my feelings, my thoughts and my desires. In other words our good feelings do have a source. They come from us. They are our own.

The result is the humanist belief that human beings are basically good. Why else, it is asked, do we hate injustice so much? And why else are we so deeply moved by beauty and so touched by acts of kindness?

“I believe in the innate goodness of most people in this world, and yet I’m a damaged soul like many other people and have my own demons and things I struggle with.” (James Gunn, filmmaker and actor)

Critics, of humanism, ask if we are basically good, why is dishonesty, infidelity, greed, envy, laziness, cruelty, often found in human affairs?

Secular mysticism
An alternative view arises from those who experience a sense of awe and wonder at the vastness and oneness of the universe. In its order and design they sense and infinite power of goodness beyond their own limited self. Such experiences seem to come to people from outside of themselves; ecstatic states tinged with feeling in harmony with nature and being connected to all life.

“Once, in the outback with a group of friends, I had a powerful sensation of the earth as a living, breathing being, with myself connected to it as a smaller being. This feeling of aliveness extended to the galaxies above, and to the night sky teeming with points of starry light. This changed my perspective on everything.” (student essay reported by David Tacey)

Abraham Maslow, an atheist psychologist, studied such transcendent experiences and commented that those experiencing these are more likely to feel that life in general is worthwhile, even if it is usually drab, pedestrian, or painful, since beauty, excitement, honesty, play, goodness, truth and meaningfulness have been demonstrated to exist.

Religious mysticism
According to writer Ken Wilber there is a higher transpersonal state of consciousness in which the sense of unity with the natural world is not lost or denied. Rather, it is supplemented by a sense of connectedness to the invisible, spiritual, formless aspect of the cosmos. He suggests that this experience of the Spirit that pervades the cosmos is interpreted in specific cultural contexts: Jews refer to it by the name of Yahweh, Christians by the name of Christ, Hindus by the name of Krishna or Shiva, etc. However, all these share an awareness of an invisible Spirit that is present throughout the universe and in some sense transcends the material universe.

“People worshipping goodness and love and kindness and truth are worshipping the same God.” (Anne Lamott, novelist & essayist)

Vision of a spiritual sun
If there is no source of goodness beyond human beings then it follows that humanity deserves all the credit for what good we achieve in bringing about happiness. This idea of human merit sounds egoistic. It runs counter to spiritual humility and contrasts with a religious orientation.

“There is none good but God.” (Matthew 19:17)

We can picture the Divine as a sun with great heat and light; its rays flowing into our hearts and minds; there kindling the warmth of human love and shining the light of human wisdom. And so without this inspiration we have no goodness of our own.

My own conclusion
Even if God is the source of all that is good, that would not be enough. This is because there is still a lot of bad stuff around in the world. Part of the answer is my own personal choice; whether or not to allow goodness to flow into my mind. Just focusing on the bad in politics and society, our outlook becomes a bit warped.

To find peace and happiness, it is necessary to look outside of yourself, not to be egocentric, but to have open-heartedness, to try to be helpful. To get on with those who annoy me, I need to remain mindful of the possibility that everybody, like me, is a work in progress.

“Try to see the good in others. When you’re tempted to judge someone, make an effort to see their goodness. Your willingness to look for the best in people will subconsciously bring it forth.” (Marianne Williamson, inspirational speaker)

As a clinical psychologist, Stephen Russell-Lacy has specialised in cognitive-behavioural psychotherapy, working for many years with adults suffering distress and disturbance.

He edits Spiritual Questions a free eZine that explores links between spiritual philosophy and the comments and questions of spiritual seekers. You can share your views and find out more about making sense of life.

His eBook Heart, Head and Hands draws links between the psycho-spiritual teachings of the eighteenth century spiritual philosopher Emanuel Swedenborg and current ideas in therapy and psychology.

Knife Crime – “By Any Means Necessary”

The proliferation of “knife crime” and street violence is a concern which is disturbing to everyone. The traumatic effects of such an event can be critically detrimental to both victim and perpetrator, though in perhaps different ways.

The perpetrator feels empowered by his action within that moment. He feels excited, vibrant, alive. But in the quiet times away from his peers, when he is alone with the images of blood and violence playing out in his mind. With perhaps the death of another human being or their severe injury stamped into his consciousness and credited to his psyche, the feeling may not be so glorious.

At least 37 people have been fatally stabbed and 62 overall, killed in London alone, since the beginning of the year. The local administration blames government cuts to police budgets. The Government blames a lack of available funds. The police blame the proliferation of gangs and drug dealers.

In truth it is quite probable that all of these things have a part to play, but is that really the whole story? Is it just a simple case of too may gangsters and not enough police or do we need to look a little deeper?

Watching a documentary on this issue recently, it struck me that the fifteen year old being interviewed who was the owner of a massive hunting knife with a serrated edge, clearly a murderous weapon, was neither a psychopathic killer nor harbored real murderous intent. His main reason for having such a weapon In his possession, was self protection. In other words, this potential murderer was a very frightened and very vulnerable juvenile.

A young individual, so scared by the effects of an economically stressed home environment and a school system with a main stream curriculum that while promoting education as a path to success, fails to address the real impact of discrimination and other unfair practices on the “ideal world” vision and innate sense of fair play, of the young and the innocent, that the certainty of “kill or be killed” jungle law, makes more sense and holds more value than the pursuit of educational success.

So what is left to this young person as a vision for their future? What is the likely end result of succeeding through education? After perhaps twenty years of formal education and preparation for life, the individual is faced with severely limited options for achieving an above the poverty level standard of living.

Very few twenty-five year olds or even thirty year olds after graduating and gaining five years of commercial experience can walk into a job where they command a salary of £30,000 or £40,000 a year, which is the level of income needed to maintain a healthy life, in many communities. It is more likely, that many will not get that job so, even as graduates, they are relegated to restaurants, bars and coffee shops.

With this picture in mind, the path of educational success, does not look so enticing. Add to this the level of discrimination and unfair treatment that is applied across certain groups of society such as BMEs or women and the picture becomes down right unattractive, even disagreeable.

Naturally the concept of enduring a 20 year indoctrination process, to secure a position of employment with which he can barely feed himself and cannot even buy a home, as well as the lack of expectation of being treated, or paid fairly is wholly unappealing. In fact by now it can be placed in the category of “why would I want to do that?” Is there some other way?

Any adolescent on the planet, can see that given the scenario presented they are about to enter a dark world of excruciating pain and suffering. A world that though defined by material wealth, affords the average, individual, adult, very few accessible options for acquiring any real financial security.

They can already appreciate that without money or a legitimated means of acquiring quite a lot of it on a regular basis, their existence is one which is overwhelmed with frightening unknowns, unanswerable questions, insecurities, uncertainties and real life dangers, giving rise to even greater fear, increased anxiety and crushing disillusionment.

What looms in their futuristic vision is not Olympian gold and glory, but needs un-met, poverty, prison and perdition.

They still have desires, nice car, nice house, nice clothes. They still have ambitions, beautiful wife, beautiful kids, beautiful life. How are they to achieve this without the hope of educational success or an expectation of fair treatment?