Actress Stephanie Beacham: ‘Why you should tell fraudsters to “Push Off, Politely”‘

We spoke to Dynasty actress Stephanie about Santander's new campaign to empower Brits to hang up on suspicious callers.

Stephanie Beacham

by Emily Thorpe |

We've all received those calls from someone you don't know, where something just doesn't feel right, especially when you're asked to provide your bank details.

Santander has revealed that Brits receive 150 million suspicious calls every week with 60 per cent reporting an increase in the number in the last year.

That's why they've launched ‘Push Off, Politely’, after finding that British manners are getting in the way of hanging up on scammers, with 47 per cent of Brits failing to do so and 1 in 5 feeling it would be impolite.

In response, the bank has teamed up with the iconic Chelsea Pensioners, to empower Brits to say, ‘Push Off, Politely’ to suspicious callers.

With scams being more rife than ever, we spoke to English actress Stephanie Beacham (known for TV appearances in Tenko, Connie, Sister Kate, The Colbys and Dynasty) who feels passionately about helping people step up and tell fraudsters where to go.

Why did you want to get involved with Santander's campaign?

I’ve been fascinated by the changes in society during the pandemic, which is why I found Santander’s research revealing the increase in scam calls over the past year very interesting and honestly shocking - especially the fact that scammers are targeting ALL age groups. I was pleased to find out that us older folk are rather better at hanging up on cold callers than the younger folk too - with only 7 per cent of over 65s falling victim to scam callers, in contrast to a whopping 54 per cent of 18-24 year olds.

It piqued my interest too as, like most people, I also know someone who has fallen victim to a cold call scam, and it’s awful. I’m very pleased to reiterate the campaign mantra and tell cold callers to ‘push off’ – nobody deserves to fall victim.

woman on phone

What is your own experience with fraudsters?

I had an almost humorous encounter where I thought I was buying a 20kg fold up origami design canoe, which I thought would be lovely for a day out and a paddle on the Mediterranean one day. When I bought it, I saw that there was a better offer for two, so I switched to that one. I waited and waited for it to arrive, with no confirmation email – my husband kept telling me that canoes were much more expensive, but I didn’t believe him! After a short while, I got a small package with two masks in it and realised I’d been scammed.

On another, more financial tangent, I have a friend who recently fell victim to a cold call scam, and lost £35,000, which is a huge amount of money. It was terrible, absolutely terrible, and really unnerving. Anybody can be targeted, and a lot of them do through these cold calls. I couldn’t believe it when I read that Santander’s research revealed that Brits, on average, report receiving up to 5 cold calls a week – so many!

What type of people are usually targeted?

Anybody! People of all ages can be targeted. Cold calls seem to be the most prevalent - it’s really not an age group thing, we’re all vulnerable. This is why I wanted to get involved – it’s so important that we raise awareness of how common these scams are and ensure that we’re talking about it, as opposed to shying away. By hiding our experiences, we’re more vulnerable.

Widespread knowledge about what to look out for, and how to deal with it, is going to be the key to beating these fraudsters.

What is your advice to help people reduce the chance of being scammed?

Put the phone down, straight away. Don’t get drawn in or trapped in a conversation with them – just hang up when you realise you don’t personally know who is calling. You may fancy a natter or feel impolite in doing so, but it’s so important not to get involved. Fraudsters can be very charming, or very frightening, and can sound like an authority or official body, especially if you engage for a long time. The longer you stay, the more likely you are to become embroiled.

If you suspect that you’ve been called by a fraudster, you should try to switch onto a new telephone line (they can be monitoring your number), and call your official bank. It’s very rare that your bank will call you. If you hang up, call your bank and ask them, it’s a short, simple and easy way to put a stop to any scam call attempts, early.

What warning signs should look out for?

One of the warning signs to look for is if somebody that you absolutely don’t know is asking for information about you. For example, a caller from a bank starts asking you to prove your identity – no details need to be given over. That’s the warning sign! A bank would not normally call you, and ask you these questions. Hang up the phone, use a new line, and call your bank to check.

No bank will ever mind if you hang up and call them back – it’s better to be safe than sorry.

What should I do if I think I'm speaking with a scammer?

Put the phone down straight away. Tell them to ‘push off’! If you believe you’re speaking with a scammer, you do not owe them your time or your good manners. The longer you stay on the line, the more susceptible you are to falling victim.

Santander research found that 47 per cent of Brits are failing to hang up the phone straight away, with 1 in 5 feeling it would be impolite to do so. We need to leave our British manners at the door, and stand up to cold callers! Call your bank back, and ask if they just tried to call you.

Why do you think Brits worry about being impolite when it comes to hanging up on fraudsters?

Good manners and politeness are a fundamental cornerstone of British society, it runs in our veins! You’ll only feel impolite hanging up on a suspicious caller if you get engaged in the conversation, so don't let them draw you in.

It really saddens me to hear of these occasions that people fall victim to a cold call – it’s so easy to do. Scammers and their techniques have been evolving over years of experience, with such a wide variety of methods that could fool anyone. The message is so important - don’t wait around to let these fraudsters in!

You have The Chelsea Pensioners, and my permission, to say ‘push off, politely’!

How to spot a suspicious phone call:

• The call is out of the blue

• The caller puts pressure on you to act now by telling you that you could miss out on a reward, or that your money is at risk

• The caller asks you to share security or PIN codes that are used to access your bank account or make payments

• The caller encourages you to download software or an app onto your phone, tablet, laptop or computer

• The caller suggests that you should lie to your bank about why you are making a payment

Learn more about how to spot and deal with scams [here.](https://www.santander.co.uk/personal/support/fraud- and-security/spotting-fraud-or-scams)

Santander’s ‘Push Off, Politely’ campaign is in partnership with The Chelsea Pensioners and supported by Stephanie Beacham. Together, they want to empower Brits to simply hang up the phone on scam callers. Check out the Pensioners’ video above, and head to Santander’s website at www.santander.co.uk/security to find out how to spot and deal with fraud and scams. #PushOffPolitely #Santander

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