A new phone scam is emerging, with a number of people reporting being targeted by fraudsters. The new scam involves a phone call out of the blue from someone who claims to be from a reputable phone and internet provider. They warn that scammers are currently accessing your internet, but promise to help you stop them. In fact if you follow their advice, you will actually be allowing scammers in.
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The callers claim to be from BT or TalkTalk. There are a number of variations on the theme, but in their latest guise, they will tell you that someone is accessing your internet connection. They warn that this means scammers will be able to spy on your internet purchases, and steal your financial details.
When they have worried you sufficiently, they will promise to 'solve' the problem. They ask you to access your computer, and visit a web page. You will be asked to click a link to allow an engineer to remotely access your computer. Once they have access to your computer they are free to install malware - which can spy on any passwords and account details you type into your computer. They may even try to arrange a bank transfer.
In other versions of the scam, they will say they know you are having problems with your internet connection, and offer to fix it if you give them remote access. Alternatively, they may say you are about to be cut off, and ask for your bank account details to 'reactivate' your account.
If you get a call, it's best to be wary from the outset. Don't 'confirm' your name, password, account number, or any banking details. You shouldn't be giving any of this information out to a stranger over the phone, and the companies confirm that they would not ask for this.
If you have 'caller display', check the number calling you. BT never calls from an unknown number or a mobile: it will usually ring from an 0800 number. However, even if the number looks right, don't assume it is, because scammers can 'spoof' numbers to make them appear legitimate.
Instead, hang up, wait, and then call BT on the number from your bill. Ideally call from another phone, to ensure the scammers aren't just hanging on the line. You can ask them if there are any concerns or outstanding actions on your account.
The providers also emphasise that they would never request a bank transfer. If anyone claiming to be from BT or TalkTalk asks for this, they are trying to scam you.
If you are in any doubt at all, it pays to err on the side of caution and assume you are being taken for a ride. You can always call your phone provider to confirm later.
If you are concerned you may have been scammed, call your bank immediately to block any payment, and call Action Fraud to report them.