My south-east correspondent Hitendra Patel (I have a northern one, but could use a few others: Midlands, Scotland, Wales, N Ireland, the West Country) had an amusing run-in with a bogus caller to his Costcutter store in Romford, Essex.
The guy said he was called Martin Lewis and wanted Hitendra’s wife to key in some lengthy digits to correct some reportedly bogus vouchers. She decided to ring PayPoint, which said no, no, no. Hitendra got on the phone to talk to the bloke and then, as it got heated, he swore at the guy in Hindi (out of earshot from the womenfolk; Hitendra is a gentleman). But to his surprise, the man on the other end of the line swore back at him in Hindi.
It happened again a fortnight later; different name, but the same story, and including the swearing in Hindi.
PayPoint’s spokesman Peter Brooker says in a response that I have abridged: “It was a variation on a scam that we’ve been sending alert after alert for months about, through our newsletter, bulletins, messages on the terminal, through the press and through organisations such as the NFRN and ACS telling our retailers that neither PayPoint nor anyone claiming to represent us will ever contact them to carry out a transaction (even a test transaction), or carry out tests, diagnostics, updates or install new services on the terminal over the phone.
“We introduced an additional stage in the money voucher transaction so the retailer has to confirm that the customer is in the shop and, last month, we made it even stronger with ‘Any phone call for this transaction is fraudulent. Please confirm you understand this’.”
He concludes: “Hitendra did exactly the right thing by contacting us. The message cannot be clearer: if ANYONE calls you claiming to be from or representing PayPoint and says they want to do anything that involves doing anything on the terminal’s touchscreen, then they are trying to defraud you. If in doubt, call PayPoint on 08457 600633 - never on any other number the caller gives you. I congratulate Hitendra on his handling of the situation.”