/ Technology

Have you been called by a ‘BT technical support’ phone scam?

Scam written on keyboard

Has the ‘Microsoft technical support’ phone scam evolved? Is it now the ‘BT technical support’ scam? We’ve heard from people who’ve been called… and we want to see whether there are more of you out there.

Remember the Microsoft support scam? It starts with a nuisance call, but can end with your PC being compromised and a dent in your bank account.

An unsolicited caller claims to be working for Microsoft’s support team, they ask to remotely access your PC, they ‘prove’ that your computer’s infected with viruses, and they offer to fix it for a fee.

The thing is, they’re not from Microsoft and your computer may be virus free. And even if your PC was infected, you could get it in ship shape condition with free antivirus software.

Hundreds of you have told us that you’ve been subject to this scam. Microsoft’s own survey found that one in five people in the UK have been called by one of these scam callers. Of those who fell victim to the scam, the average amount lost was  £745.

The ‘BT technical support’ scam

We’ve now received reports that the scam has changed, or at least that it’s evolved to be a call from ‘BT’s support team’.

One Which? member told us he thought he was speaking to someone from BT – he was then tricked into paying the best part of £400 to remove viruses from his PC.

Our Twitter follower Brian experienced something similar. He was called by someone claiming to work for BT’s Wi-Fi team. They told him there were problems with the broadband connection in his area and that they needed remote access to his computer to fix it. This took control away from Brian, his computer shut down and now he can’t start it up.

So we want to hear from you – have you been called by someone claiming to be from BT’s support team? Did they remotely access your computer? Share your experiences in the comments below.

Advice on technical support scams

Oh, and some advice for you if you’re called by one of these scammers, whether they purport to be from BT, Microsoft or another company. A caller does not know whether your PC is infected with viruses. Do not ever let a caller remotely access your PC – this hands them the keys to your personal data. And never hand over your bank details to an unsolicited caller.

If you think you’ve been a victim, run a virus scan, alert your bank and contact Action Fraud to report the scam.

Comments
Guest
Claire says:
20 March 2017

We have had two calls within the space of an hour from a woman with a foreign accent claiming to be from BT technical support regarding our internet and malware on our computers. The second time I asked for a phone number so I could verify that she was from BT. She gave me the following number 0203 129 4936 which I looked up online, and it seems to be a number associated with accident insurance scams in the past. I didn’t call.

Guest
Chris says:
21 March 2017

Had a call earlier today from 01274859681 – a person claiming to be BT Technical Support, explaining to me that there is a problem with my internet connection. Clearly scammers. It’s disappointing their Caller ID hasn;t been picked up and blocked already by the BT Call Protect Service.

Guest
Liz says:
21 March 2017

I have been called today by three different people all stating that my internet router needed fixing – the first caller I hung up on, – the second caller I asked for her name and then when I asked for the position she holds in British Telecom, she hung up, and then ten minutes a third caller claimed my internet connection had a virus. I told him I had no internet connection and he said you have a computer, I stated I didn’t and he hung up. Definitely scammers!!

Guest
Frances Mather says:
22 March 2017

I have just been called by a “BT technical support” from this number. 01391182. He sounded Indian. He claimed there are issues with my broadband that they needed to show me and I should log on to my computer so they could show me. He was very insistent and said my broadband could be shut off tomorrow if I didn’t fix it. I didn’t fall for it, but I can see why people would. So unfair.

Guest
andrew wiltshaw says:
22 March 2017

Had a phone call today saying my computer was running slow which of course it does the guy told me to hold the Ctrl button as well as he windows button bottom right then press together. Sent me to a site and loaded up a program and sayed Bt OWED ME MONEY. HE INSISTED TO OPEN MY BANK ACCOUNT TO CHECK IF THE MONEY HAD BEEN PAID IN, I REFUSED AND PUT THE PHONE DOWN. Checked the contact number which was 00000000000 BEWARE BT SCAM.

Guest
m strong says:
23 March 2017

Phone call from 02879417911 pretending to be from BT and saying my computer has a problem.
Indian accent surely BT can control these numbers as they have issued them !

Guest
S M Jones says:
23 March 2017

I was called on Tuesday from someone claiming to be from BT’s technical Dept. saying my computer had been hacked and was being used illegally. I had fended off 3 previous calls, but having since experienced problems with my computer this person convinced me he was genuine. I asked for verification that he was from BT, by giving me my account No., to which he replied that the technical dept doesn’t know the billing details. He then quoted what he called my ‘licence No.’ and guided me where to find it on my computer to verify. Stupidly I then followed instructions to download an application called ‘AnyDesk’. I was then asked did I buy on the internet using eBay, Amazon etc., which I rarely do. It was when he asked if I banked online, to which I replied no, that he hastily ended the call and alarm bells started to ring in my head. I have since deleted ‘AnyDesk’ and changed all my passwords. This scam needs to be widely publicised so others don’t fall victim.

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Guest

It is unfortunate that the scammers got so close to defrauding you, S M Jones. You say “This scam needs to be widely publicised so others don’t fall victim”. Well, it has been widely publicised with thousands of reports to Which? Conversation, lots of articles and features in newspapers and almost every topical magazine you can buy, frequent slots on popular TV consumer and magazine programmes, warnings all over the web, and cautions on company websites and their bills; it’s difficult to know what more could be done [although, so far as I am aware, it has not yet been used as a story line in a soap opera or a popular drama series].

Guest
Mufassa says:
23 March 2017

I get these calls on a daily basis, I love to keep them on the phone as long as possible. I used to tell them I know they are a scam and they would hang up, but now I love to wind them up, waste there time. Time wasted on me stops them ringing others. Everytime I find new ways to keep them on the phone and wind them up and at the same time amuse myself for 15 mins or so!!

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Guest

Keeping scammers engaged on the line is no doubt an enjoyable pastime when you know the score and can stay in control, but I feel that general advice should be for people to terminate the call immediately they get a cold call – one they are not expecting or have never had before.

If people start to believe the smart thing to do is to keep the scammers going there is a risk that they will fall for the trickery and get defrauded. The people who devise the scams spend all their time thinking how to make them work better, especially against vulnerable people, whereas the population at large has given almost no thought to how they will handle a malicious call so they start off at a disadvantage.

The only thing we should all do is cut the call off quickly. Posturing that prolonging it to save someone else is a fantasy that will have no bearing whatsoever on the overall damage being done and the anxiety that follows. In any case, most people have something better to do with their time than waste it talking to criminals.

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Guest

Is it not about time we stopped referring to callers as having a “heavy Asian accent” when what we mean is that their English pronunciation was difficult to understand? Their accent is probably normal for their domicile. Some UK accents can be unintelligible to those not used to them.

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Guest

John arent the posters not being a bit hesitant to actually name the country due to the social pressure of intense PC . I have been honest from the start , most of those call-centres originate in India and. as I said many times an ex.BT Technical Officer backed me up as he actually repaired equipment in them in India. This country is now being browbeaten to refrain from telling the truth and the worst part is, go to some of those countries and what they have to say about Britons would get you arrested here if referred to other races of people as it would be so extreme in nature but dont worry I am a dying breed soon to be gone but to me the truth is the –Truth. I do agree wholeheartedly that even in this country its sometimes hard to understand other dialects but I have found by practical experience of moving to a different part of the country you eventually fully understand every word thats said you brain adjust over the decades as well as your speech.

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Guest

You could well be right, Duncan, and I am not trying to suggest that there is anything racist about referring to Asians in the context of this Conversation. PC Avoidance can sometimes be worse than potentially causing offence. It is the ‘heavy accent’ part of the description that I mainly take exception to as it might be being used derogatorily and people cannot help the accents they inherit.

I once challenged an Indian cold-caller and asked him where he was calling from; he wrong-footed me by being able to convince me that he was in his home in Crawley, West Sussex. He was no doubt connected to an operation in India but for all I knew he could have been born in England and I work on the basis that other explanations are usually available. People who call Aviva Insurance often think they are being answered in India but in most cases it is from one of the company’s call-centres in Norwich.

Guest
Kathryn says:
23 March 2017

Just had a call from a guy called ‘Henry’ (sounded Asian) who claimed to be from BTs technical team to tell me my system had been hacked and they needed to close it down for two weeks. He said it was unsafe to use and if I continued, irreparable damage would be caused to my computer. When I asked him to put the information into an e mail from BTs official site he put the phone down. I am presuming this was a scam and at some stage he would have asked for money or something?

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Guest

It is more likely, Kathryn, that he would have asked you, quite plausibly, to give him remote access to your computer from which he could then have planted malware and other corruptions in it to enable the perpetrators to extract money from your bank and savings accounts, take out loans on your accounts, and capture a large amount of personal information that would have made you vulnerable for ever more. Thankfully you foiled the attempt. You can ignore the threats of closing down your computer system – those are made in order to intimidate people into complying with their cruel criminal intentions.

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Guest

Nice smile Kathryn , I hope the PC Brigate dont jump all over me ??

Guest
jill lorimer says:
23 March 2017

Same here – they said my internet connection speed was fluctuating and they were going to address it… They said they had my CLI(?) so they could identify my line and prove they were genuine…

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Guest

I hope you terminated the call immediately, Jill. Most telephone subscribers won’t know their line identification number so it is impossible to corroborate anything these people say; it’s just part of the bamboozlement and callous fraud.

Guest

A call from ‘number with held’, claiming to be from BT and Openreach asking if I had I noticed a poor internet line recently (well, who hasn’t!) and this was due to some malware being downloaded onto my computer. The call was from a very noisy call centre and a very poor line, hardly understandable. As I have recently reported problems on my (ee) internet I did initially give it credence. I asked for their phone number to call them back when more convenient, he said it was ‘0441097’. I said goodbye & hung up. I would say obviously a scam though I would have liked to have contacted Openreach to check but there are no obvious contact details for them.

Guest
jo sweeney says:
24 March 2017

i have had 4 calls from “btreach” in the last two days, saying my broadband was not working each time they have told me to press ctrl and r, then type in eventvwr or today it was misconfig, i pretend to do all this then after about 10 mins, inform them i know it is a scam and that they are trying to remotely access my computer, i say i am not rich, and could they not try and get a job, where they are not trying to rip of vulnerable people, at this time they hang up

Guest
Simon Parker says:
24 March 2017

Just had one claiming to be from from BT Security. One of my broadband lines was being used illegally to download illicit material . Strange since that line is not enabled for wifi and no computer is attached to the hub at present and hasn’t been for about 3 weeks.

Claimed that I had a flashing purple light on my BT hub which meant BT had put a lock on the broadband, interesting seeing that I use an Draytek, and there is no light of that colour even available.

Asked for his name, claimed to be Robert Parker, hmmmm an Asian Parker. Asked if he was related to the Thunderbirds Parker? Completely threw him. Asked for a phone number. He gave me a number in London, so dialled it on another line and it was unsurprising dead. Told him that the number he have given me was for Pakistan Embassy. At which point much to my amusement he hung up.

Guest
Donavan says:
25 March 2017

I just tell them that I am not the person that they need to speak to and I will get that person, and just leave the phone there… Come back and check in ten mins, if they are still there i just say that they are coming and do the same thing… seem to stop them calling for a month…Other than that there is no real way to stop these people calling you

Guest
Paula Gray says:
27 March 2017

Had three calls in total, despite my husband being quite rude (already suspecting a scam), they were surprisingly persistant and he humoured them by asking what they think is the issue and what they would suggest he should do (but without doing anything), yet they still kept at it….. you’d have thought they wouldn’t waste so much time on people who are obviously suspicious….. they claimed were from the BT tech dept. So glad people are posting about this to try to stop others!

Guest
Konstantin says:
27 March 2017

I never reach the interesting part with “BT guys”. I ask them to quote my BT contract number and they always hang. It is such a disappointment not to find out what they want.

Guest

just when is BT going to get their act together and jump allover these phone scams, the have to know the origination of these calls ! I have had 3 calls today.

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Guest

It is almost certain that the calls originate overseas and BT does not have the means to stop them at source. The scammers constantly change the numbers they use so I doubt if it is possible to trap and stop the calls as they arrive in the UK. The sooner that BT closes down its operations and call centres in India the sooner the flow of subscriber information that enables these calls will stop, or at least reduce. I suspect the scammers have alternative sources or will just make random calls. According to the reports posted here, the scammers usually have the subscriber’s name and other details; that might become more difficult in the future, it depends on how they acquire that information. At present I expect there are restrictions under the Telecommunications Acts and Regulations over what degree of surveillance they are permitted to carry out on incoming traffic and to what extent they can intercept and cancel calls without authorisation.

Guest
Janet Webb says:
27 March 2017

Have had several of these over recent months, but have had two today. They mostly come through with ‘International’ showing in the caller display. I usually listen to their nonsense for a few minutes and then insist that they send someone around to fix things as I’m paying them to provide a service. Normally they hang up immediately. However, on one occasion the caller said he would send an engineer called Bill the following morning. Surprisingly nobody turned up!

Guest
Ray says:
Today 14:59

I had a call yesterday from “Gary” at BT, wanting to talk about my internet connection. When I asked for some verification, he immediately became very abusive. When I didn’t rise to his abuse, he then threatened physical and sexual violence on me and my family (apparently, I have daughters, who knew?)at which point I hung up. He rang back immediately, I cut the call. He called back etc and I just kept my thumb on the “end call” button. This went on for a while until he obviously got bored.
.

Guest
Simon says:
Today 15:18

Tried a few time with me and told them where to go! Concerning though is that each time I have ended the call my internet goes off?! Anyone else had this?