/ Technology

The BT phone scam continues…

Red landline phone

The BT phone scam doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon. Like the Microsoft scam, an ‘engineer’ informs you that your computer is running slowly and then tries to convince you to hand over money to fix it.

The BT phone scam was first brought to our attention by a Which? member in November last year. The caller informed him that his broadband was slow owing to issues with his computer. He offered to fix the problems by remotely logging into his PC. This has the hallmarks of a classic scam call, but more worryingly, the member’s BT account number and other account details had been mentioned correctly by the caller.

Rightly suspicious, the member ended the call and contacted BT. He was told that BT staff were not allowed to recite account numbers when phoning customers.

Which? Convo commenter Maureen has had similar calls:

‘I was called by someone who said he was a BT “engineer”. He said they could tell from their server that my computer was running slow. As my broadband ISP is BT I asked a few questions to find out what was up.

‘I asked how the server could tell how fast my computer is running. Surely it can only detect the size of uploads and downloads and the speed of the connection? He said that “oh yes, the BT server can tell…” I asked whether he had the number of my BT account. He quoted a long number. Hmmm… I asked whether he knew my name. He said he’d ring back later and hung up.’

Hold on to your personal details

We’ve been in touch with BT, who told us:

‘Unfortunately this is one of many scams. BT works with the police and the industry to help combat fraud and scams. We offer lots of regularly updated advice on our website about the steps customers can take to protect themselves.

‘We advise customers never to give out personal details over the phone or online unless they’re certain who they’re dealing with.’

BT couldn’t explain how the scammers had accessed genuine BT account numbers but said it was possible victims had entered this information online through a phishing website.

Hit by technical support scam calls

Chris gets his own back on these cold callers:

‘The call usually starts with “Hello, is that Mr. ‘X’?” and I always answer, “Who wants to speak to him?” At that point they tell me they’re from Microsoft, BT or some bank etc. I then say “Can you hold a second while I get Mr. ‘X’ and nip into the next room to get my Fox Referee’s Whistle. I ask if they are still there and with fingers in ears I give them a really long and hard blast.’

Lilian’s Girl demonstrates the seriousness of the problem:

‘I have often received international calls telling me I have a virus… my computer is at risk… my computer needs a repair etc. I always put the phone down as soon as I realise it is not my son who sends me international calls. As an 82 year old widow, I do not need this.’

If you get a call from a company wanting to ‘fix’ your computer, alarm bells should start ringing. They cannot identify problems with your computer. Even when Microsoft collects error data from a user’s computer, it does so without knowing whose PCs they are. Never let callers access your PC and don’t part with money – just hang up. You can also help stop unsolicited calls by signing our petition.

Have you been called by the BT phone scam?

Isabel says:
30 November 2015

Was called on my landline today saying that there has been an attack on my BT hub and the engineer will help me to sort it out. When I wanted to call back he said that it will cost me a lot of money. I cancelled the call and they immediately called back, I was getting really uncomfortable by now, but it did leave me a bit rattled. My first concern was, what if it is true? Luckily our company has a person that I could call to help, very very good these guys

lane says:
6 April 2016

got call today from “bt” saying going to disconnect my phone as problems with my internet downloading virus. withheld number and speaking with foreign accent. said not with bt but he said all same satellite and will be disconnecting my line. tried to get me to turn on computer so could check internet connection. not that silly… said thanks for letting me know and put phone down, then rang me back. I put phone down, am getting at least two of these calls a week

I also have had two of these pesky calls from a gentleman with a strong Indian accent. Being very deaf it is almost impossible for me to understand what he is saying, however I have to say he perseveres with his claims telling me about hacked files causing slow internet and can even give me my licence number whatever that is. I find the whole experience quite upsetting but now I know for sure it is a scam I shall not be upset further just relieved.

Jason Bourne says:
20 July 2016

I had the bt call today an indian speaking woman could hardly make our what she was saying so had to keep saying what did you say I wasn’t busy so played along with all her requests ( not really) After what she tells you to do with the computer she asks whats it saying in the corner of your computer to which I then replied ” how f in stupid do you think I am you scumbag scamming b***h
she uttered something and that was that. This has happened four times in the last 2 weeks.

RonH says:
22 July 2016

Just had the BT engineer scam from phone number 003920 (what sort of phone number is that?) Rabbitted on and on saying my PC had been hacked along with thousands of others. I told him he was a filthy scammer and that I was not stupid. He wanted me to give him remote control of the PC. I said my PC runs Linux not windows and hung up on him. Filthy scamming idiots like this should be persecuted with a maximum prison sentence. Trouble is as long as they can hide behind false caller IDs how can we find them. Its time the Government forced BT to improve their infrastructure to make this impossible.

Had a call today 13.40 p.m. 4th October 2016 from a guy with a thick asian accent saying he was from B.T. He asked if our computer was on and what was the key next to Ctrl. We told him Fn. However, we clicked on quick that this was a scam as he continued to quiz. We gave him no more answers. We don’t even have B.T. We could hear many persons in the background on telephones. I am concerned that he will attack vulnerable persons.
Concerned person Kings Lynn

Hello Carol, thanks for sharing this with us, it sounds like you were ahead of the scammer here. Sadly we get a lot of reports of these calls. If you managed to note the number down then you can report the scammer directly to Action Fraud here http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/report_fraud

It never ceases to amaze me how many people still get taken in by these phone/support scammers.

I think Which? could help here by contacting phone/internet providers and ask them to send out regular emails to all their customers warning them of these scams.

Hi @alfa, it’s really awful to hear these stories and we do hear a lot of them too, which is why we have a call for businesses to do more to protect their customers from scams in our scams campaign. Our Corporate Affairs team also ensures that businesses are aware of issues like these that we hear about from our supporters, and we’re constantly talking to them to understand what more they can do. Many companies already do send emails to their customers to warn them about scams, and include warnings on their websites, but there’s always more that we think they can do – and not least because there are limitations to how effective some of the awareness raising can be.

I have been with various IPs and have never had an email from any of them warning of scams. I also rarely go onto their websites.

Can you get Watchdog to launch something like ScamWatch in association with Which? and inform viewers to look out for emails from their ISPs who WILL be on board with regularly sending ScamWatch emails to all their customers?

Scams need to be highlighted to the public a lot more than they are at the moment as so many people still don’t know about them.

Bill says:
5 October 2016

It really is time that BT, who control all the landlines and exchanges simply put a stop to this kind of nonsense. I realise they are only interested in making money and couldn’t care less about the punters, but they have all the technical resources to identify where these people are operating from and the means to effectively stop them. The way things are is far from satisfactory and I wish there was an alternative to using their services, but all other UK providers have to use their network.

Adam says:
26 October 2016

Back in April this year, I had a man claiming to be from bt, (a bt engineer) I just had my fiber optic broadband installed too, he said my internet was running slow, and he could boost the speed, I genuinely believed him as I thought it was slow too. He asked me to run a code in the run box, apparently this code was the name of his website, he was trying to get me to use a back door, instead of a front door, as to hide the fact that this was just some random website, and not a pre-installed part of the computer programme, he almost had me fooled. Luckily for me my BT hub somehow blocked access to this back door, as it kept bringing up the message (please update BT hub) so I decided randomly to do a google seach for this random name that he wanted me to access, and sure enough it came at the top of the search page, I went onto the website to check it out, he was asking me me to click a link on the website, apparently if I had clicked it, my computer would have been overloaded with data stealing virusus. He did ask me about my bank details before this, so he was clearly after my bank data. I did a quick google search to see if it was a scam site, and found out it was. I went back onto the phone and said (nothings happening, nothings working, I’m busy, I’ve got to go, goodbye) then out the phone down. It cost someone else on the same scam £300.00 pounds, lucky me.

David Reynolds-Moreton says:
24 April 2017

Must admit, I’v had a bit of fun with these jokers! – When I’ve had the time – which isn’t often!
When asked to type in a word or number, hit the ‘up arrow ‘key in the middle of the word so the word won’t complete – tell ’em the key they asked for won’t work!
Question everything they ask you to do – and then question that!
One hour 40 minutes is the record so far (after being transferred to several ‘experts’ – and then it was time for lunch!
When they ask you to look for the ‘windows flag’ key – say you don’t have one, as it is a home made keyboard from a friend – your old one packed up!

I was a victim yesterday and up until I fell for the seemingly bona fida call thought I was astute enough to avoid the trap.

25 October 2018

Had one a couple of days ago and one today pm. Asian female said my internet was running slow and she was from BT. Said I don’t have BT She said it was a subsidiary. shortly after she cut call so unable to question further. todays call was about 15 mins ago if you are able to trace.

My husband was scammed in July of this year. It was { supposedly } BT Security stating our internet was going to be cut off. Then the line went dead. After a few minutes my husband rang 151 to inquire about the fault.& the reason why we were been disconnected. Unfortunately it was not BT that he got through to ,it was the scammer. They convinced him that a person had hacked into his computer & with that they took control. My Husband is on a lot of medication & has not been himself, so we decided to give power of attorney to our daughter {she received confirmation in June } before the scam .I hope that the Banks ,BT ,Police find ways to make it harder for these scammers. We have been scammed out of nearly £14.000 pounds & Santander is refusing to refund us as it was authorised. The scammer was convincing to my husband who is vulnerable & he was took in by him.The money got transferred far too quickly from our bank to the beneficiaries bank . BT also needs to find a way of not leaving telephone lines open. Less than a hour after the scam my daughter notified the Bank but the money was gone & the beneficiaries bank was only notified by email one and half hours later. Once the Banks are aware a scam has been committed they should have someone who get in touch with the beneficiaries Bank as soon as possible..