/ 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
Robert Baldock says:
13 February 2020

I find that if you ask them to tell you your BT account number they get confused. Ask them for your full name and address and they can’t tell you. They hang up at this point normally.

Ernie Sharp says:
13 February 2020

Got BT scam call today and at least 3 times a day with the Amazon Prime.We have phone call blocking,worked well at the start,but now getting bad again.But we have been well aware of scammers for a long time and always beware of what you do on the Internet as its not as secure as some think and the scammers will try every trick in the book to get all info they can out of you.Our advice never ever take anything at face value,if it don’t feel right it’s more than likely a scam, always be aware of what’s being said at all.

Iain Field says:
14 February 2020

I had a call purporting to be from a BT engineer saying that I had a problem with my broadband connection. The background noises sounded like a call centre (probably a theatrical type prop) when I refused to turn my computer on and that she was a scam she hung up.
Less than a minute later the phone rang again with a man stating that he was from BT and the previous call was not a scam, when I asked him to confirm my account number and password he hung up.

Busta says:
11 March 2020

They probably were in a call center – this is big business. Scams like these are organised and run like a business. Don’t underestimate them

stuart ingram says:
14 February 2020

I frequently get calls from both Amazon Prime and a variety purporting to be from BT about my internet getting attacked by unknown sources from outside the UK. My call blocking system is now full of unwanted numbers but they still get through. I even got a ‘phone call (queried 1471) where they had ‘phoned me using my own home ‘phone number to call me.There are certainly a lot of scamming going on. Just received one whilst writing this.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I had one of the rare nuisance calls today purporting to be from BT OpenReach saying my broadband was running slow. I asked him why, if he was from OpenReach, the line was of such a poor quality with a lot of interference and distortion. Hung up, of course.

I had a similar call on a day when my broadband had been totally unusable for weeks! I realised it was a scammer, but spoke to him initially to “Reel him in”! After a minute or two let him have every bit of the anger and abusive language that i had wanted to let Openreach have, but was much to polite to do! After about 8 minutes (I was Very Angry!) I paused for breath and he was apologised madly(!) but repeated that I needed to do whatever in order to avoid his disconnecting my broadband. “Disconnect It!” I said, loudly. “It’s no B****y Good anyway!”! and he was totally confused.
“But don’t you want…” he spluttered
“No” I said. “I don’t. AND, I will be requesting compensation!” I said as an afterthought, and then I paused. “Well, Thanks for this chat, I feel much better, and I could never have said this to Openreach!” I appended in a very different tone. “I’ll let you get on, after all, you have others to try and scam!” and put the phone down.
A few weeks later I did leave BT for Broadband, as 0.5Mb is a useless speed, but I was able to remain civil with the genuine people thanks to the free “Therapy” that the scammer afforded me!

Albert says:
14 February 2020

It appears quite a lot of people recieve these BT SCAMS, so it pays to spread the word.
When i was a new kid on the block i got caught out by this filth, then quickly realised their game. I disconected the ROUTER and spoilt their day

Gina Smith says:
17 February 2020

I had the BT scam call too. I pressed 1 on my phone and the lady said she was going to disconnect my phone and Internet. I told her I didn’t have an Internet connection and she hung up. Didn’t get the chance to also tell her I’m not with BT anyway!! Not heard anything since.

Paul Barnes says:
18 February 2020

I had a call from a man today claiming to be from BT open reach. He said I had a problem with my broadband and that it had been hacked. I knew straight away it was a scam. He told me to open my browser. I said I was at work and wasn’t authorised to make any IT changes at work. I asked him if it was a scam. ( I had some time to waste). He then said to open my browser on my personal phone. I asked if the problem was with work or my home. He said it was home, so I asked why he called on work phone. He said that he needed to get hold of me urgently. I asked him, who am I? He then said he wasn’t allowed to tell me my name. I still played along for a while. So I tell him I have opened my browser. He tells me to type in quick support and download the app. Yes ok I’ve done that. ( not really). He asks what can I see. He says it should ask me to start. Then a number should appear and I must tell him the number. So I tell him 12345678910. He came back with that’s not the number. I ask him how many digits it will be. He replied 10. So I give home a random 10 digit no. He tries that and says that not right. I’m bored by this point and hang up the phone. He then rings on a different no and asks why a hung up. I said because it’s a scam and hang up again. The phone rings again from another different no and he says it is not a scam and he’s from BT. I hang up again and he finally got the message. 3 totally different area codes but the same guy. He was easy to spot as being a scam. Beware though if someone cold calls it’s either a scam or they want to fleece you. It’s fun wasting their time if you have the time to do it.

I have fun wasting their time too -there are a lot of us out here, and if they are talking to us they willlleave some other poor unsuspecting person alone. My best was 45 minutes of time wasting! I also, on one recent occasion, actually reduced one bloke to tears! I asked him if he was a religious person, and he said he was – They really want to keep you hooked, so they will answer off script random questions, no matter how bizarre – and I went on to ask him what would happen to a thief in their religion. Eventually i got him to confess that it was a scam, and he had never thought of it as stealing! He was just a little bloke working for a big wheel in a huge call center in India., and all they did all day was make these calls! I said that his soul was in danger, and the only thing he could possibly do to save it was to repent – and report his boss to the local police! He was in tears, and I think I either hit a nerve, or he deserved an oscar! t was about a half hour call, but it felt like a tiny victory!!

I mentioned a while ago that I have had no calls for several months when I gave my City of London Police script. Then during the last week I have had 4 or 5 calls claiming to be from Amazon Prime. The first few were pretty standard, when I try to dial the number back it does not exist as usual. The on Wednesday and Thursday I started to get calls at the same time of day as the first ones, same message about Amazon Prime. This time the numbers are valid UK numbers, one from a sales company they denied having made any calls during the last hour or so. Another number was a TalkTalk Coms desk, again they say they had not called, then a third call again a sales company in the midlands. This is a big change in protocol. Has anyone else had calls from real numbers??

The picture at the top of this conversation shows the old BT logo. Should it not now be changed to represent the new BT logo with the initials set in a simple halo?

The scammers have picked up on the changes – now they say they are ringing on behalf of Openreach technical support. Openreach no longer uses the BT logo and doesn’t have a logo of its own, just its name in mauve lower case lettering.

I was called today on my landline for the first time by a lady with an Indian accent (location, of course, unknown) who asked if I was troubled by nuisance calls and would I like to be protected from them? I replied that I thought I was receiving such a call right now. She repeated the offer of protection, then suddenly realised she’d been rumbled and ended the call. Is this a common experience amongst Which members?

I’ve had a couple of these calls, but that was years ago.

Ana says:
3 March 2020

I live in Spain and i receive an average of 3 calls a day very early in the morning from “Microsoft”, I have 15 telephone numbers from the 208 of UK and i have blocked each one of them but it never ends…
I feel BT should be able to locate the company from where they come as they ARE ALL RELATED, but cannot find a way to contact BT and give the list of numbers. Please help….

Hi Ana, if you can access BBC iPlayer from Spain, you may find this interesting:-https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m000fzx2/panorama-spying-on-the-scammers

Currently, I think the best way of avoiding cold calls from scammers is to use a telephone setup that allows you to set up a “safe list” of numbers, so that the phone only rings when you are called from one of those numbers. Calls from other numbers are diverted to voice mail, to allow serious callers to leave messages.

The Panorama film specifically shows scammers using fake adverts and malware browser popups, to con PC users into calling them. But I’m sure cold calling scams originate from similar organisations.

Scammers arressted see:-https://m.hindustantimes.com/gurugram/udyog-vihar-call-centre-duped-at-least-40-000-in-12-countries-2-arrested/story-vsGBr7p13IF3whT3OTBVwK.html

A welcome result after exposure by Jim Browning and the BBC.

Thanks for posting that excellent news Derek. Well done Jim brown.

I have never seen a pop-up like the one in the film but can see how people are frightened into sorting it out quickly and calling the scammers. For anyone seeing this popup, don’t be alarmed. The subject is intended to scare you into action and does not know what is on your computer at this stage:

The police have seized 3 bank accounts, they have the data of 70,000 scam calls so they know who the victims are. The BBC have data that shows the scammers were making about $400,000 a month and who the victims are.

What needs to happen now, is those behind the scams living the life of luxury off the misery of their victims are made a real example of – seize all their accounts and property, reimburse victims and give prison sentences that deter. Currently, scammers who are caught get treated much too leniently and it is time they were stopped.

I see 17 FIRs (First Information Report) have been filed by Microsoft. I just hope they are not the ones who become beneficiaries of the scammers.
Also:
https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/fake-call-centre-busted-in-ggram-51178

Organised scamming on an industrial scale can be seen here:-https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uV-qa9M-o4E

Jim Browning released that yesterday as his second video about the Microsoft support scam featured on last week’s Panorama.

This latest video is episode 2 of 4 in Jim’s planned expose.

Episode 1 is here:-https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=le71yVPh4uk

The other two episodes will be coming soon.

wendy kennedy says:
6 March 2020

Despite having Call guardian set to No International calls I have now received 14 this morning. all saying they are from Bt openreach. first one very early so was half asleep and asked them to give my name which they could not so hung up. very angry as I am waiting for a very important call and keep dashing to phone only to get these scum people.how they sleep at night is beyond me.
useless blocking as they ave used 12 numbers so far.

Hi Wendy, if you are a BT customer and know the numbers that your important call will originate from, then using a combination of the VIP List and Do Not Disturb modes in BT Call Protect may do what you need.

See:-https://www.bt.com/help/security/bt-call-protect—-how-to—–guide

Alternatively, you could buy a phone that offers similar features, e.g. this one:-https://www.argos.co.uk/product/4625089

Please note that I don’t work for either BT or Argos and so I have not used or verified the functioning of either of those actual items myself.

However, I do use similar capabilities on my Honor 8S Android mobile phone, from which I think suitable technology is now readily available for those who want it.

We have had 8 calls saying that they are going to close our internet and computer down as their is a fault on them, the phone number is 01224549797 it was a woman calling and it said press 1 for further details, so we put the phone down straight away.

Chas says:
21 March 2020

Recently, a man telephoned offering to fix my computer problems.
He sounded Indian, but his telephone number purported to come from Bettyscoed in Wales. I told him I did not have a computer and rang off.

Later that day a woman rang and later on he rang again.

I Googled “Who is calling me” and found the calls using that telephone number originated in Hyrana, India.

Gary Packer says:
21 March 2020

My 84 year old Mum’s just been called by the Indian BT router scammers. Luckily I was with her and listened on speakerphone. Took over the phone call when they started demanding remote computer access. Mum looked a bit shocked at the colorful language used.

Since I don’t have a computer running Windows, the Microsoft scammer telling me my computer is full of viruses is on rather shaky ground. But try asking him to identify which of the many (fictional) computers has the problem. When he struggles, help him out by asking which version of Windows it is running. Even those questions can go round in circles for some time. Then accidentally let slip that your company’s security department has almost finished tracing the call…..

joe says:
14 May 2020

Get called telling that WiFi was going to be switched off my “BT”, with EE provider.

I have had this call several times, just ask the caller what type of net is inter and the call goes silent. BT call protect doesn’t work on this call.

J.P. says:
11 June 2020

I have had the BT internet call and the Openreach call many many times. Mostly I put the phone down but sometimes I talk to the bogus BT person, saying I know how difficult it is to get a job in their area (the Indian ones are apparently often young graduates conned into the job by misleading advertising) but that they must be so ashamed of scamming people to make a living that they must have a terrible conscience. They then hang up.