/ Money, Technology

Scam watch: could you be fooled by a fake Twitter account?


Using Twitter to complain to a company about its service can be a swift and effective way of getting results. But beware if the ‘company’ suddenly private messages you – it may not be the genuine article, as one member discovered…

A member told us how they’d been hoodwinked by a fraudster on Twitter, believing they were communicating with the genuine account holder:

‘I was on Twitter with the genuine Virgin Media account, discussing router issues. I then got a private message on Twitter from what I thought to be Virgin Media. It asked security questions, which I answered. The account was bogus and tricked me into giving away my card details. While I chatted to the fraudsters, my bank called to tell me that a large transaction was declined by its system. I cancelled my card on the spot and complained to Virgin.’

Our say on fake Twitter accounts

Banks and broadband providers are being mimicked on Twitter, but they’re not alone.

In November, a fake Twitter account was brazenly set up in the name of Action Fraud, the UK’s fraud-reporting centre. The spoof Action Fraud Twitter account responded to tweets sent from fraud victims, asking for personal details.

You can see if a Twitter account is legitimate by looking for a small blue tick at the end of its name.

If it does have this, it has been verified as being an authentic account by Twitter.

When you’re using Twitter, never give your personal or banking details away by tweet or direct message.

Also, be wary if you’re suddenly messaged directly while you’re tweeting an authentic account, as our member was.

If in doubt, stop the conversation and contact the organisation in question via a phone number you have verified independently.

If the account isn’t genuine, you should contact Twitter to report an account for impersonation.

If you suspect you’ve been a victim of fraud, call your bank right away, then report the matter to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.


This comment was removed at the request of the user

These Convos reveal a good deal of personal information about those who contribute. I expect Which? to keep that and our email addresses secure but, judging by the data that social media can disclose to advertisers, this is all a matter of trust. At what point do we become so suspicious of any online forum that we clam up? I’ve nothing to hide so it doesn’t bother me except I would be careful what information I did disclose. Others may be less discreet.

Ian says:
26 March 2018

Which? knows a lot about the users of their site, not least from the random one-question surveys that pop up from time to time asking for an opinion on a diverse range of topics. Over time, that sort of information can build up a substantial profile through the drip-drip-drip collection of innocuous facts.

And the various Which? Campaigns ask voters to divulge their email address for the purpose of being marketed to. At the end of the day, Which? is a publisher with a monthly magazine subscription to flog. Anything else is a sideshow but so obviously done with the aim of increasing those sales.

This comment was removed at the request of the user

This comment was removed at the request of the user

Ian says:
27 March 2018

… or be wise to that from the very beginning and never sign up.

Hi Ian 🙂 I hope you’ll be happy to know that we do not share any data with third parties and we only use data that our supporters have consented us to use, and for the purpose, they’ve consented to. This allows us to keep our supporters up-to-date on our latest campaigns and products or services (depending what they want to hear about).

I don’t post messages on Twitter and although I do receive some emails from Twitter I would not act on them, any more than I would if I received an ordinary email or a phone call. If I do want to make contact with a company I will make a phone call or send an email, and I have no plans to send a Tweet.

I haven’t been taken in by a fake account, but I have seen them in operation. They usually try to get you to follow a short link. Did you know the @tsecrime (aka The National Trading Standards eCrime Team) have now stopped using short links as they’re a huge boon for scammers.

Ian says:
26 March 2018

“…. and complained to Virgin.”

Eh? What? Why complain to Virgin? They didn’t private message you and they don’t run Twitter.