Consumers warned over phone scam

09 August 2010

Phone customers have been warned to beware of the latest scam which involves fraudsters trying to fool people into handing over their bank details.

The fraudsters ring up pretending to represent phone companies and demand immediate payment for an outstanding bill.

They then pretend to cut you off and the phoney reps have managed to trick a number of unsuspecting customers into handing over their bank details.

The police are investigating and BT Security is looking into incidents where the fraudsters have claimed to be from BT.

Anyone who suspects they may have been a victim of fraud should contact their local police station immediately.  

The scam

The phoney phone rep rings up demanding immediate payment for an outstanding bill.

They ask for your bank or credit card details and warn that if you don't pay, the line will be immediately cut off and you'll face a much steeper reconnection charge.

The fraudster then tries to prove their legitimacy by seemingly disconnecting your phone.

When you hang up and try to ring out again, there is no dial tone and the phone line is apparently dead. The fraudster then rings you back hoping they've done enough to fool you into handing over your bank details.

BT says that while it does have debt handling procedures which may involve calling customers, it never carries out disconnections during the call by way of proof.

It advises customers never to give out any banking details over the phone unless they are absolutely certain who they are dealing with. If there is any doubt at all, a BT employee will be able to give the customer their employee ID number and an 0800 number to call, where the customer can check that they are who they say they are.

The customer can also check their identity by calling 0800 800 150.

How it works

The scam works by the fraudster remaining on the line when you hang up.

When you try to dial out you think the line is dead when in fact the person at the other end never put the phone down and simply has their hand on the mute button.

They can hear you trying to dial out and when you give up they then ring you back.

What to do if fraudsters call

If you receive such a call and you suspect that it is fraudulent: 

  • Do not give out any personal or bank details
  • Call your service provider's nuisance call bureau to see if the call can be traced
  • If it can, pass on details to Consumer Direct (contact details at the end of the article)

What to do if you have given out personal details

If you have already received a call and given out your bank details you should: 

  • call your bank immediately to let them know about the scam and to cancel your credit card or change your bank details
  • ask your bank to try and trace the payment
  • contact Action Fraud, the UK's national fraud reporting centre. If you've been scammed, ripped off or conned, you can report the fraud to them.

To contact Consumer Direct call 08454 04 05 06.

Click here for more information on tackling scams