159 is a new scheme to check that calls from banks are legitimate
When you call service 159 you will be directed to an options menu that reads aloud the name of each bank that has signed up for the service. You can then be put through to your bank using your telephone keypad. The idea behind the system is to help those who believe they have been contacted by scammers posing as their bank or by scammers who encourage them to send money.
But when you are directed to your bank’s customer service department, Martin says that this may be the best way to call your bank in the first place.
On his broadcast last night, Martin said, “If you have to call your bank now, just dial 159, which is on a diagonal [on your keypad]. This is a pilot project that will allow users to verify that calls are real. Banks and certain telecommunications companies will – but not all will.
“Well, what they really say is, if you get a call from someone saying they are your bank but you are worried, you can just dial 159.”
Note that calling the service costs the same as calling a national tariff. So if you have inclusive minutes, these will be deducted from it.
But be warned, this may not stop sneaky scammers from contacting you
However, be aware that if you simply hang up a suspicious call and dial 159, you may not be protected. Martin warned, “This will not guarantee you any security, as sophisticated fraudsters can forge a dial tone into thinking you are calling your bank – but the fraudster will provide a ringtone and an answer.
“Just to be on the safe side, dial 159 on another phone, or you can call a friend’s phone first and if they say ‘Hello Barclays’ you know there is a problem. Or you can just wait twenty minutes and click 159 try on the same phone. “
Our guide to 25 Ways to Stop Scams will tell you what to look out for, how to protect yourself, and what to do if you are a victim of a scam.
Many banks take part in the program – but not all are included
Here is a table of the companies currently participating in the 159 service – and the top providers that don’t: