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?