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36% of UK People Have Been Called by Scammers Impersonating BT

Wednesday, March 27th, 2019 (2:10 pm) - Score 8,591

A new survey of nearly 4,000 UK residents has found that 36.41% of respondents had at some point received a call on their home phone line from someone they suspected, or knew for certain, was a scammer impersonating a representative of broadband ISP BT. One victim was even conned out of £34,000 from their bank.

The survey, which was conducted by Comparitech, similarly noted that there has been a significant annual increase in Google traffic for people searching the term “BT scam“. This is despite the fact that many phone providers, including BT, now implement strict nuisance call blocking features. However such features are often better at preventing spam calls than crafty fraudsters, even though they do catch some in the latter category too.

Sadly scam calls like this are nothing new and they can be targeted at a variety of different providers, although BT tends to be in the firing line more than most because they’re the largest ISP and the fraudsters are thus more likely to hit upon somebody who is actually one of their customers (hence why a lot of non-BT customers also receive fake calls claiming to be from BT support etc.). Nevertheless we’ve also seen plenty of scam calls from people claiming to be support staff for TalkTalk, Sky Broadband, KCOM and even some smaller providers.

In many cases the fraudsters will appear to be calling from a UK area code and some may even demonstrate knowledge of your personal details (e.g. name and address). However such details can often be scraped from public sources or bins and not to mention the huge amount of personal info. that has, in recent years, been stolen through unrelated hacks of different websites. In other cases we’ve seen situations where foreign call centre staff may have leaked details to criminals (e.g. TalkTalk’s past case).

Scammers then tend to use a variety of different tactics, such as claiming they’ve refunded too much money into your bank account (i.e. a way of extracting your bank details or getting you to send them money). In other cases they may panic you into thinking there’s a virus on your computer or problem with your broadband connection (i.e. the goal being to get you to install a remote desktop client or malicious software on your computer, which hijacks it).

In some cases the scammers will try to contact an individual multiple times and they’ll soon switch or spoof different numbers when blocked. Naturally most such calls come from outside of the United Kingdom, which makes them hard to tackle. Such criminals tend to like using countries with low labour costs and lax policing.

In reality most broadband and phone providers will never call up to ask subscribers for personal information, passwords or bank details out of the blue. Likewise they won’t ask for remote access to your computer, threaten to disconnect you and will always call from a known support number. If you have such a call then the best course of action is to put the phone down, wait a few minutes and then call your provider directly on an official number in order to report the incident.

BT has setup a dedicated page for reporting scam calls, which also contains additional advice. Just remember, even if the caller seems to know your account details, it’s still wise to put the phone down and then wait a couple of minutes before calling a known number for your provider to check. Likewise the same goes for emails, never assume that they’re authentic just because they look like a proper message (aka – phishing).

Sadly pensioners and other vulnerable groups are much more susceptible to such tricks, so do please help to educate your family members about the dangers. In the UK, some 50% of all phone calls are said to be spam, according to Truecaller, and 18% of all spam calls are scams.

Alternatively you can report such calls to Action Fraud via their website www.actionfraud.police.uk or by phoning 0300 123 2040, or call police on the non-emergency number 101.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
Leave a Comment
17 Responses
  1. Joe says:

    Had 6 in one day from the fake bt ‘your broadband will be cut off’ recently – get them fairly reg. Always fakes #s so you can’t block. Why BT can’t spot faked UK phone number from international calls is beyond me.

    1. lillian wood says:

      HI joe ive had many of this type of call just put the phone down but now I think they have found another way ive had calls saying I’m going to loose my phone line cant use my line to make call or receive its just a loud crackling sound

  2. Jigsy says:

    The key to dealing with these scammers is to launch into a tirade about how they haven’t installed FTTP in your area yet and when will they go about doing so?

    Just treat them with the same contempt you would for any other legitimate BT employee.

    1. TheFacts says:

      Or Cityfibre or Gigaclear who have not installed FTTP for you?

    2. Jog on Jigsy says:

      What a rediculous statement to make, I bet you think waiters are beneath you too.

      You wonder why you don’t ever get exceptional deals when you call your provider meaning you’re forced to switch to a new customer deal every year.

      Says a lot about your personality doesn’t it

    3. Fastman says:

      hhhhm

      don’t think you warrant a response frankly

    4. Jigsy says:

      What’re you talking about? At least waiters actually provide a service.

    5. GNewton says:

      “Or Cityfibre or Gigaclear who have not installed FTTP for you?”

      So do you get scam calls pretending to be Gigaclear or Cityfibre?

  3. CliveC says:

    I thought it was a requirement for telcos now to block calls that were presented with fake CLI? I understand this might be hard as it’s possible for a PBX etc to send OLI of a DDI number not in service but valid int he customers DDI block. However usually these scam calls are sent with a CLI that is a digit too short. This is basic validation that could be done. Did I get the piece of it being a requirement wrong?

    1. TheFacts says:

      And if they send a valid CLI?

    2. FibreFred says:

      Most of the crank calls I get have legit looking cli including the same area code as me to make it look local.

  4. Optimist says:

    I just tell them they must be calling the wrong number as I do not have a telephone.

  5. captain.cretin says:

    You can always tell the BT scammers from the real thing.

    The scammers are far more knowledgeable and much more polite.

    I went on holiday for 10 days once, got back to find a BT bill, Reminder letter, Red Letter, Final Demand, Cut off warning notice and “You have been cut off” letters with consecutive dates on my doorstep (and no phone connection).

    Cretins couldnt figure out why I refused to pay a reconnection fee; case went on for nearly 2 years.

    All that time, the phone didnt work, but the (now free), internet did……..

  6. PhilVoIP says:

    Fake BT have been relentless recently with “Your IP address is being used in another location” nonsense recently. 6 calls in the last week alone. Thank god my mum and dad are tech savvie enough to realise this is a nonsense.

    They’re calling my grandma too who’s never had an internet connection. She’s happy to play along for a bit of fun then drop the bombshell about 15 minutes of surreal conversation into the call she can’t turn her PC on as she doesn’t have one.

  7. AliensHusband says:

    Had a call from 01838451979 claiming to be from BT. They were going to terminate my landline and broadband. I was instructed to press 1. I hung up. I am not a BT customer !

  8. Karen howlett says:

    My sister is getting over 12 calls a day so am I I’m usually sarcastic to them they hang up then getting on my nerves needs to get sorted

  9. Kevin says:

    Please just tell the person in India that you only have a Linux computer. They can not get access and will ask if you have windows or smartphone. Say you only have Linux for safety. They will hang up. I get 4 a week call me. BT have done nothing yet to give me confidence that this is being dealt with. More should be don’t to protect the elderly and vulnerable from these calls. I’ve just been on the phone to BT 45 mins of then telling me they can not stop them. They are randomly generated numbers. They offered me a number change but could not guarantee them not calling that number. I am lucky I don’t rely on BT line or the broadband they provide. I can do everything on my mobile with my package. So long and short I’m 80% mind made up that I’m going to rid BT from my life.

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