/ 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?


I am pleased to report that it is months since I received calls about my alleged computer problems, which I used to get numerous times a week. I never did receive the BT scam calls.

What I am still getting is regular calls telling me that ‘I definitely qualify for a new government-funded boiler’. Is this a scam? As far as I know, grants are only provided for those on very low income.

These calls have got to stop.

Anna says:
6 February 2014

If you are on any benefits you may qualify for a new boiler. To find out, ring a reputable company and they will tell you if you do. I have had a new boiler this way. I’d never deal with a cold caller and I think the practice should be stopped. There are many elderly and vulnerable people who answer the phone and believe every word. I’ve seen in happen many times as a care worker and it’s deplorable.

I have never had one of these calls, ever, such a shame as I would love to have some fun with these guys on the phone 🙁

superjanet says:
5 February 2014

Whenever I get a call of this nature (haven’t had the bogus BT engineer yet) I just say I haven’t got a computer and hang up. Just about the only time I ever tell a direct lie, but justifiable in the circumstances?!

“BT couldn’t explain how the scammers had accessed genuine BT account numbers ” – Really, they should look at their corrupt call centre staff in India, there are numerous articles about it on the web.

Last call was a few weeks ago, so I’m due another round sometime soon. I guess after they’ve called all the UK numbers they move to the next country then the next. I have friends in Canada and the US who get these calls too.

When they do ring up, I simply say, I’ll let you talk but don;t lie to me, and within the 1st couple of words they;d lie, so I pull them up, they soon get bored of being stopped every few words being told they’re lying to me. Luckily I used to work for a software company using PCs, so they are obvious lies.

Anna says:
6 February 2014

I tell all cold callers politely (unless they continue their harassment) ” I do not deal with cold callers, ever. Please take my number from your list. Goodbye” and hang up. If they’re persistent, I just ask them to hold on and I put my phone down by the tv on full blast.

Why be polite? When I receive these nuisance calls, I swear at them very rudely and hang up. Since I started doing this, the number of nuisance calls has gone down. I think the nuisance call industry has put me on to its blacklist!

P Toner says:
28 July 2014

yes I do swear at them and the poor man lost it with me GREAT

Moh Lee says:
25 August 2016

No point putting your TV full blast. The volume the receiver is receiving is limited so any volume above the cut off is cut off. Sorry your effort to hit back is not effective.

Just had a call about servicing my Dyson from someone claiming to be from DC Servicing , the nice sounding lady asked if it was working ok, to which I said “NO”. “Oh why?, what’s wrong” she said, “its non existent ” I said. “Oh I seem to have misdialled”, she lied. “Well can you take me off your list or whatever you’re using and not call me again please” At which point she hung up.

Looking online there seem to be alot of people complaining about this type of call. And with a number, and the fact she could be lying about the company I can’t really complain or can I ?

About time organisation withholding their numbers was made illegal. Punishable by paying everyone they’ve ever called £100 for each call.

There is a DC Servicing that does appliance repairs. If you are registered with TPS they are breaking the rules calling you. It might be a genuine mistake but the other reports suggest otherwise. This is worth reporting.

I can see DC servicing is a valid company but as I can’t prove it was them ringing I don’t believe the TPS will do anything. I’m afraid I don’t sure your belief in the TPS, I’d rather watch paint dry than waste time dealing with them. In my opinion they just like so many regulators ARE part of the problem.

Ok I’ve reported them ( if it is indeed them )

I still think it should be illegal for companies to withhold their number. Why would a company that services vacuums feel the need to withhold their number unless they’re up to no good ?

It may be worth speaking to DC Servicing first in case someone is using the name of a genuine company to generate business for themselves.

TPS does not have the powers to prosecute but they can collect information and hopefully contact companies that are regularly breaking the rules. Contacting the Information Commissioners Office is the next step.

I have not been able to take much action in reporting nuisance calls because the only ones for which I can identify the company are market research calls. Sadly these are legal.

I am not convinced that any of our regulators are doing a good job.

We have had explanations about why hospitals and doctors’ surgeries withhold their numbers, and no doubt companies have their own reasons/excuses. I can understand why it might not make sense to give the calling number where that phone line could be used by a number of people, but at least we deserve to be given the number of a company’s switchboard and the name of the company on caller display.

I seem recall being called by them before as I can now remember getting to the part of the conversation having confirmed the service date/time saying “so where can I buy one”, “cos it would be silly for the engineer to arrive and me not have one” . These people have no sense of humour.

galdora says:
6 February 2014

About 2yrs ago I was scammed and paid out cash via paypal for a 2yr contract for my laptop to be serviced by someone called Global International? (I think). They rang from India. I allowed them access to my laptop – can’t believe it! and my laptop seemed to run better – but then I received calls from the company to say that my money hadn’t arrived. I confirmed with my bank that all monies had been paid out from there end and told Global that it had and apparently they said it hadn’t arrived and I was to resubmit my payment – and then I suspected a rat and rang a local computer shop who told me it was a scam. I immediately got onto paypal and although the bank had paid out the money, paypal refunded the whole amount to me quite promptly.
Later the company (Global) rang me and said they still hadn’t received the money so I told them I’d cancelled it and that if they bothered me again I would take them to the police as they were a scam. This hastling went on for about three months and then I changed all passwords to access my laptop and everything stopped.
Until just recently – the phone calls started again – but this time when they ring (or any cold calling for that matter) I put the phone down and/or immediately say WHY? when folk call – and this quickly gives me an answer as to who it is and whether I want to respond

It’s sad that when so many people could do with having their computers tweaked legitimately that companies need to lie and cheat and be dishonest to provide these services.

I very much agree, William. I think there is a lot more that could be done to design computers so that they can deal with most problems themselves. This is happening, but not nearly fast enough, making many people a sitting target for the rogues.

Simon says:
6 February 2014

I had some serious fun when I was called by the con artist regarding a virus on my PC. The caller advised me he was from Microsoft and that my computer had a number of Viruses which were causing problems on the “internet”. The caller asked if I was using a laptop or desktop. I was about to put the phone down when I thought no let’s have a bit of fun. I informed the caller I have a laptop. I was instructed to type in a web address to enable to “Microsoft” to access my PC to clear the virus which was alleged to be impacting the internet. I informed the caller I was seeing the message “spelling error” on the laptop screen, over the next few minutes we tried again and again to enter the web address, the caller even provided letter by letter the web address. No matter what I did I still got the spelling error message. After ten minutes of repeated attempts the caller asked how I was connected to the internet (Wireless or cable). I said I don’t know everything was done for me. I could sense the frustration in the caller’s voice. I was asked what make of laptop I was using, I said I don’t know the label had come off. I was asked to turn over the laptop and read the label. As soon as I said “Spell Master Age 3+” the caller mysteriously went quite, I knew he was still on the line as I could hear the background noise. I had to cut the call as I was laughing so much I could not continue. It was the best 15 minutes I have spent on the phone.

Organised says:
7 February 2014

How is it that I never get cold called on my landline? Is it because I’m ex-directory, and have been since the 1970s/1980s? There’s been no need for me to sign up to the Telephone Preference Service.

I would say your just lucky, as the automated diallers these scammers use start at one number and just keep adding one to it until someone picks up the phone, then they just carry on adding one.

A cousin of mine said exactly the same then 2 weeks later she go a call.

Phil says:
18 August 2015

Yeah I run a business.. ex directory does not get you any orders.

Steve says:
7 February 2014

About 11 months ago I installed a trueCall blocker. Haven’t had ANY cold calls, never mind scams, since. Ideal for the elderly.

Joan says:
7 February 2014

Simon, you’ve given me the best laugh of the day and this is by far the best kind of response to any scam or unsolicited call: waste their time and money insteady of them taking yours! In the past, I have responded with ‘oo dat ringin on dis phone? Stoppit, stoppit – it makin me crazy’ and put down the phone.

Steve says:
8 February 2014

I have a phone service which shows the caller no.. If I get a call where the callers no. is withheld or unavailable I let it go to the answer m/c. If its a genuine call from somebody who actually wants to speak to me they will leave a message, otherwise they go away.

Andy Cooke says:
10 February 2014

I’m fortunate, I suppose, in that my only relative living abroad would not call my landline. So every time the phone rings and displays ‘International’ we leave it to ring. If it’s important they’ll leave a message; they never do. These calls we receive 1-2 times a day almost every day. Sometimes we receive them when we are at work and they are displayed as missed calls. But we never answer them because we know full well it will be a scam caller.

Derek Putley says:
22 February 2014

I have a landline but I only use it for the internet – I do not even have a telephone connected.

I expect all personal calls to come to my mobile. I do not answer number witheld calls or calls from unrecognised numbers. Those calls will all go through to my voicemail and any genuine callers can then leave a message and I’ll get back to them.

I have a BT DESKTOP HELP Icon on my computer and when I was having trouble trying to pay for an item I went into this icon to get help. I went through several stages which appeared genuine and then got a message on the screen saying my system had been hacked and they would be able to clear it and retrieve any information lost. Asking if they were BT they said they were and would I let them take over my computer to clear up all the hacking. then on the screen came rows and rows of numbers and messages all in red. I got a telephone call saying they were destroying all this illegal information. When they had finished! I received a telephone call saying they were Microsoft and the bill for this was $654 dollars. I foolishly paid them. When my friend who takes care of my machine called me I told him what had happened and he came to see – it appears they had put on programs which I could do for free. then in the post came your February magazine on page 6 the very scam I had received. My engineering friend took my machine away and cleared everything they had done. I telephoned the credit card company and told them what had happened and they reported it to their fraud department and I was not charged. I am very careful now about everything concerning the web, e-mails and anything else which looks suspicious.

Margaret Hook.

Tom Smith says:
9 May 2014

I was called a couple of days ago (7.5.14), not by someone posing as a BT man but from ‘Windows’. I hung up on him. But having dialled 1471 afterwards, lo & behold I was informed of the caller’s no. 01626 4459137. On the face of it, this has too many digits so is it genuine? If it is, can he be traced and prosecuted, please? TS.

Goto http://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/problem/i-keep-getting-unwanted-calls-and-text-messages-what-can-i-do-

and click on the find the right complaint form and that will take you to the correct place to report the call.

Unfortunately you never get any feedback about reported calls.

And with regards the number its too easy to “spoof” numbers and I’m not aware of anyone actually doing anything to stop it. I’ve been called by 000000000000 before now.

Tom Smith says:
11 May 2014

Hi William, Thanks for your comment. Don’t think I’ll bother to pursue it in view of what you say.
PS. Why the long face?

No reason other than it was a frequent visitor to my garden, until I started regularly mowing the lawn. He may still visit, but as there’s no “hiding” space any more I doubt he bothers to stop.

jefferson kibb;e says:
14 August 2014

this recently happened to me and i got all the way to the pay the cash and went nah mate.

These people are very convincing over the phone so be careful. Next time they ring I am gonna just stay on the line and put some loud rude activity on and let them be confused. These people deserve no respect!

Lazy no good, IT freaks who cannot be arsed to get into gear and get a life!

I was taken in by a caller claiming to be from BT: as bad luck would have it, I was expecting a call from them in connection with my transferring my landline number to my mobile phone operator. So I was easily hooked. I am glad to say that the fraud department of Barclays Bank were more on the ball than I had been, and they stopped the transfer of funds; this produced a little flurry of calls from India; but that eventually stopped, and I am none the worse for it all – just a bit wiser!

This is a new scam, to my knowledge.
They left a 1471 “who called” number: 02033180712
The caller had an Indian accent with middlish command of English. There was no line-noise, as there usually is when a criminal phones from India.
He claimed to be an employee of Microsoft, and gave me an ID for my computer. He said it was erroneously being shared amongst 4 other computers, in the Far East. He wanted me to follow his instructions, to get the other half of this ID, which he would validate for me. “Seeing was believing”, he said. I asked for a phone number where I could check his credentials with Microsoft, and he started to gibber uncontrollably in Pigeon English. He knew my exact address and name, but this is not surprising since I have in the past naively provided these to “Market Researchers” who also apparently rang from India. That was before I became convinced that India is stocked up with criminals from top to bottom.
After I hung up, he rang back 3 times. I just unhooked/hooked each time.
So he must have thought he was onto a good mark.
I have tried unsuccessfully to find a BT number where I can report this. If MI5 and the NSA can snoop on our calls, the technology is available to them to intercept and block incoming fraudulent calls from known numbers.
Vote UKIP and empower the people!

I have just been contacted today by an Indian lady called Nancy. Nancy was calling from 0203 2899 079 and said her company was working on behalf of Microsoft Office. She was insistent that my laptop was being targeted and that she would be able to help me. I asked to be taken through security so I could confirm that this was all legit, she was v keen not to do this. Finally she asked me to run the windows and ‘R’ key which would give my unique licence number – 888DCA60-FC0A-11CF-8F0F-D0C04FD7D02. I have since found out this is a standard number and has nothing unique about it at all. I explained that I would write down her instructions and then once I had investigated them on the internet if this was safe to do I would complete them. She was keen for me to do them immediately though. The program she wanted me to run was eventvwr, which I’ve found out is a scam. After some time of trying to establish is she was bone fide or not I decided it was all a bit dodgey so hung up. I called the London Microsoft Office and was told that Microsoft never call customers and that my computer was safe as long as no program had been run. I called back Nancy who surprisingly answered the phone, Nancy wasn’t v keen to chat this time though and just wanted know what I wanted! I was clearly taking up Nancy’s time.