Column: Press option one or you will be arrested...
By the time the Press publishes, I may be in jail.
It all started with a phone call.
It came from a number in Buxton – allegedly – and delivered the sort of warning you normally see in a tense moment in a movie.
A recorded message began stating this was the National Office For Something or Other and they were calling to let me know my National Insurance number had been traced to some very serious illegal activity, and the feds were - as he spoke - racing up to my street.
Time, he warned, was of the urgency before my number was suspended and I was arrested.
All I had to do was press one to be connected to an enforcement officer.
It’s all too easy to hit the connect button - scam calls can be hugely convincing, and their impact can be quite awful.
This one was certainly different.
The message had been recorded by a man who spoke with an authority and gravity designed to get you to react, and dial into, presumably, some eyewateringly expensive network or get your NI details for activities that almost certainly will be dodgy.
It’s easy to see how people are taken in.
There’s that instant jolt followed by panic - and a desire to make sure everything is okay. All you need do is press button one …
Only later do you wonder how your NI number could possibly be used for any ill-gotten gains. (of course if it’s true, then right now the prison warden will be switching the lights out and this column may end abou...).
Maybe it’s linked to all those accidents I appear to have had in the last two years - the ones that weren’t my fault.
Every time I block their number, they change one digit and keep calling.
One time, they rang every single desk phone in our office in sequence, sparking a wonderful rolling wave of expletives as we each told them to go away.
One colleague played along to see how far he’d get before they hung up.
He did indeed confirm he was at the wheel at the time of the crash, and didn’t see the on-coming vehicle because he is registered blind - that and the fact he was eating a fish supper and texting his wife at the time, while also tying his shoe lace and playing a banjo.Oh, and then there was the lack of visibility caused by a baby elephant sitting on the passenger seat …
Only then did they cut the call.
I did go through a spell of asking the cold callers to remove my number - in truth they don’t care.
One guy told me there were 100 companies around Manchester alone all chasing up a catalogue of car crashes. I blocked him. Just got 99 others to go ...
I’ve decided to luck it out with this NI threat.
If my street isn’t sealed off by the weekend and a cop standing at the foot of the garden talking to me through a megaphone, I think I’ll see Christmas as a free man.
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