The BBC's current programme on scams is a useful reminder to all of us of just how vulnerable we are to the increasing array of scams, usually initiated via the telephone. One of the cases featured this morning has left me livid at the shear injustice. Business people were contacted and persuaded to change their analogue telephone system for a digital one. The company clearly stated at the time they were connected to BT and that customers would be refunded the money they pay for the new system through government grants. Neither of these facts were true.
When signing the agreement, which was effectively a lease agreement they were not given copies even when they asked for them, instead being fobbed off with the promise of a soon to be forthcoming comprehensive folder of agreements etc. The fact is that they were tying themselves into 7 year highly expensive agreements with leasing companies for the equipment. The reason why they were not given copies of those agreements was because they were taken away and changed without their knowledge, often from 1year term to a 7 year term. New agreements had forged signatures.
The perpetrators of this scam were jailed for fraud and despite the watertight evidence which secured the conviction the victims are still responsible for the costs of the forged agreement to the leasing companies. If this is the case then it is clearly wrong and the law should be changed.
This brings me to one vital point about transacting business on the phone. I have had a number of forays from scammers both by e.mail and telephone. Fortunately I have not been caught - yet. There is one rule I stick by. I will never transact any business over the phone if I did not initiate the call. Sometimes this means I lose out on some good deals. For example I had a call from the AA, or at least an AA representative who had all my details; membership no, address etc. He was making me aware of promotions the AA had on offer at the time and one product in particular was of interest to me. However, we got to the point where he asked me for my card details to pay for it. I think that call was genuine but I stuck to my rule of not transacting the business from a call that I did not initiate. I said I would phone him back via the AA. I was told that was not possible, clearly he was being paid on commission by a company retained by the AA to sell their products. My immediate thought was that the AA should not put their members in this position as the next call could be fraudulent. I made the point to the AA but received no intelligible response. Maybe, if I had the power of similar minded customers alongside me I could have an effect.
Have you had similar situations that you would like to share?