Expats are among the millions who receive nuisance phone calls every day from scammers and it seems nothing can be done to stop these international crime gangs.
These crooks deliberately base their crooked operations outside the reach of governments and regulators.
In Britain alone, the government’s Money Advice Service reported more than 250 million unwanted calls are made every year and that the crooks have contacted 11 million people since April 2015.
That’s nearly 7 million calls every day, without adding in millions more unsolicited text messages and emails.
So, why do companies make these calls?
The objective is to make money either by encouraging people to invest in worthless projects or by stealing their personal details to access bank and credit card accounts.
Pension scammers have stolen around £50 million since April 2014, mostly from cold calling.
How do they get names and numbers?
The data is harvested from public databases, such as lists of shareholders subscribing to public companies that are freely available.
What’s being done to stop cold-calling?
For expats, very little. There is no joined up measures as each government only has national jurisdiction, so scammers just cold-call from outside a country and no one can stop them.
The UK is bringing in laws to ban cold calls, but only within Britain, but has yet to issue a draft bill or set a date for when regulation might start.
How to handle cold calls
Top of the list is ignoring the call. If you recognise a cold call number, do not pick up. Any reply tells the cold caller the number is live, so not responding repeatedly tells the system the number is probably a dud.
If you do answer a cold call, just hang up.
Never pass any personal information to the caller
If they are selling an investment or financial service, ask for their licence details and name – they won’t supply them because they do not have them
If the cold caller contacts you by text, check your provider to see if they have a blocking service for abusive messages – most do.
If you believe you have been tricked by a fraudster and have handed over money, tell the police and your bank straight away.