159 is a new scheme to check calls from banks are legitimate
When calling the 159 service, you’ll be taken through to an option menu where the name of every bank that has signed up to the service is read aloud. You are then able to use your telephone keypad to be put through to your bank. The idea behind the scheme is to help those who believe they have been contacted by scammers claiming to be their bank, or by fraudsters who encourage them to transfer money.
But as you’ll be directed through to your bank’s customer service department, Martin says it may be the best way to call your bank in the first place.
Speaking on his show last night, Martin said: “If you need to call your bank now; just dial 159, which is in a diagonal [on your keypad]. This is a pilot scheme for people to check calls are real. Banks and certain telecoms firms will do it-but not all of them will.
“Now what they’re really saying is; if you get a call from someone who says they’re you’re bank but you’re worried, you can just dial 159 in return.”
Note that calling the service will cost the same as making a national rate call, which means if you’ve got inclusive minutes it’ll be taken from those.
But be warned this may not prevent sophisticated scammers from contacting you
However, be mindful that simply hanging up on a suspicious call and dialling 159 might not protect you. Martin warned: “This does not guarantee you safety, because sophisticated scammers can spoof a dialling tone so you think you’re calling your bank – but the scammer provides a ringtone and an answer.
“To be totally safe, dial 159 on another phone, or you could call a friend’s phone first and if they answer’Hello Barclays’ you know there’s a problem. Or you can just could wait twenty minutes and try 159 on the same phone. “
See our 25+ ways to stop scams guide for what to look out for, how to protect yourself, and what to do if you’re a victim of a scam.
Many banks are taking part in the scheme-but not all are signed up
Here’s a table detailing the firms currently taking part in the 159 service – and the major providers that aren’t: