/ Technology

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

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.

02/09/2019: BT technical department call

We continue to receive large numbers of reports of scammers impersonating BT’s ‘technical department’ in order to gain access to victims’ PCs and/or extort money from them:

It would appear that this call is similar in nature to the Visa ‘fraud department’ scam, which has also been plaguing people across the country.

Thanks to you and your frequent comments here on Which? Conversation we’re well aware of the scam and are able to warn others. We’ll also be making BT aware of the volume of comments we’ve been receiving.

As always, if you’re worried about these calls or fear that you may well have fallen for a scam, our guide to phone scams can advise on what you need to do.

These calls can also be reported to Action Fraud online or by phone on 0300 123 2040.

Have you received this scam call? If so, let us know in the comments and help others avoid falling into its trap.

Original convo 22/11/2013

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.

One final thing you can do to help call time on scams is sign our stop nuisance calls peitition.

Comments

Like others on this thread, I enjoy wasting the scammers’ time. But I had an upsetting experience a while back, when a very nice girl purporting to be from “Microsoft Technical Support” phoned from what I believe to be a Philippines call centre (my wife is Filipina).

After engaging her in conversation for some time, I went into a well-rehersed script, along the lines of “You only get one shot at life. Why have you chosen to waste your life being a criminal, ripping off innocent people?”. She denied she was a criiminal, I told her she was… and then to my astonishment, she burst into tears, still bitterly denying my accusation.

The penny dropped. I believe that at least some these people probably genuinely believe they are working for Microsoft or whoever. Jobs are difficult to find in the Philippines and these girls are probably grateful for the ‘professional’ work and are not told the truth by their employers.

I felt dreadful for days afterwards for causing this girl to be so upset from thousands of miles away.

I’ve now softened my approach. I now ask them rather more gently if they realise they’re working for a criminal organisation. Have they ever seen any Microsoft official documentation? Etc. Generally planting seeds of doubt in their mind. If their supervisor is listening in, it’s often about this time that the call gets cut off.

Of course if it’s a man on line, then I let rip with both barrels! But do be aware that at least some of these people may not have the faintest idea they are engaged in criminal activity. Most of the real crooks are probably unidentifiable and untouchable.

Lynne says:
3 July 2020

been called by an automated message saying my internet has been compromised by illegal activity I will be called back to update my details or my provider will turn off my connection, the number who called was 0060175679379 has anyone else been contacted in this way.
I am currently trying to inform BT have been in a queue on telephone for the passed 15 minuets

Hi Lynne, welcome to Which? Conversation and thanks for sharing your experience.

These calls are a long running scam, as shown by the 100 pages of comments logged here.

If you do manage to contact BT, then they should be able to advise you on the best way to block such calls in future.

I’ve had loads of these calls. I am now abusive to these callers: very abusive.

Jack Halewood says:
10 July 2020

Received a call (international/unavailable), far east accent claiming to be from BT/Openreach investigating my internet connection. Had all my details including a very long BT Internet security number which I was asked to write down. Was then asked to switch on my computer….. I hung up immediately.

Andrea says:
11 July 2020

I have just received the automated version of the “compromised wifi due to hacking activities” message from 07871 902130. I didn’t bother to listen to the end and am very doubtful that my services will be disconnected….

Here’s one recent example of white hat hackers fighting back against some scammers:-https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SQPUSPXyny0