Helping the Elderly Avoid Hoax Calls

Whilst at a clients house recently we answered a call from someone claiming to be from BT.

They said that our clients “IP address” had been hacked and that they needed to complete a security process so things could be rectified.

Obviously this is absolute nonsense, but when said convincingly could have even experienced IT professionals wondering how that could be possible and why anyone would do it.

The caller included all the usual techniques to persuade people into giving over personal information:

  1. Reputation – Calling from a wellknown brand – in this case it was BT.
  2. Worry – You are in danger of losing something (money / access to services).
  3. Urgency – act fast (usually in the next 20 minutes) to avoid a bad situation becoming worse.

Common hoax calls could be from Banks, internet/telecoms suppliers, utilities, insurers, tv licence, post office. In general any service that most people would be expected to have.

The caller usually won’t know who the supplier is, but they might just get lucky. BT supplying broadband sounds very credible if that is who actually provides the service. However, a Virgin customer will quickly expose the scam. Don’t confirm who the supplier is – this is valuable information and may be used in future attempts!

Identify Fake Hoax Calls

  1. Where are the calls from? Withheld numbers, out of area or international numbers in fact any number not recognised should be assumed to be a scammer. Don’t give out or confirm any information.
  2. Be alert if any asks you to complete a security process or requests any personal information.

What to do on a suspected a hoax call

Thank the caller for making you aware of the issue and say you will call them back, and hang up. Do not answer the phone again if they call back.

If worried that the call is be real, find the callers number via their website / letter head / phone book and call their customer services. DO NOT USE any number that you were given on a call.

Minimise the chances of receiving hoax calls

  1. Go ex-directory. This will reduce the chances of scammers getting hold of a phone number.
  2. Add your phone number to the TPS. This won’t stop scammers – who are happy to break the law – but it will reduce the number of general marketing calls. This makes hoax calls easier to recognise.
  3. Reject all withheld numbers. A phone line supplier may be able to do this for free, or there are phones that can filter potential hoax calls.

Help the elderly avoid becoming hoax call victims. Make them aware of what a hoax call looks like. What to do if they suspect they get one and how to minimise the chances of getting them in the first place.


Find out more about Deckchair Care and how we help the elderly with our at-home service.