Hello, have you got a minute? (Or 20 as it turned out.) Would you like cheaper phone calls? Well, yes, who wouldn’t? The company that phoned Barry Chandler up at his service station in Walthamstow in London’s East End, offered to send him a welcome package introducing him to more economical telecom services.

Great, thought Barry who was used to being accosted in various milieu and offered cheap deals on sundry utilities. But a simple ‘yes, send it’, didn’t suffice. The rep wanted bank details. “They wanted all kinds of information, including bank details,” says Barry. “And they kept me on the phone for 20 minutes. It also sounded like a long-distance call to me – I couldn’t tell because they withheld their number. I wondered whether it was a variation on those email scams?”

Ah, those scams from deposed royalty in foreign climes that appeal to our greed, promising hugely generous cuts in exchange for our bank account details to enable them to get their secret untold wealth away from wicked regimes. This one strikes me as rather more perfidious though because it appeals to our practical nature. I have no idea who might be behind it, where it originates from and/or how widespread it is. It’s a new one on me and probably will be to a lot of others so I’m grateful to Barry for the warning. It may seem like basic advice, but never give your bank details to strangers. The mere fact that these scams have survived for more than 20 years, means that plenty of people don’t follow that advice.