A while ago, I received a telephone call from someone saying that they were from the “Technical Department” of my Internet Service Provider and that they were calling me because my internet had been running slow. Strangely, my internet HAD been running slow a day or two before.
Coincidences like these can really make you think such calls are genuine. The caller also new my name and some account details and spoke with the same accent as a customer service adviser from the same company that I had called a month or two before.
It really did sound genuine. Just to be sure, I took his number and said I would call back in a few minutes. Instead of calling him, I looked up the number of my service provider (which was close to the number he had given me) and called the service provider instead. They informed me that the first caller was nothing to do with them and it was indeed a scam!
But how did the fraudster know my name and other account details? It’s clear to me that this information much have been leaked or sold to the scammer by someone working for my service provider (and likely based in the overseas country where they had based their call centre).
So, just because a caller KNOWS INFORMATION ABOUT YOU does NOT mean it is genuine.
With a little research, I soon found out how this particular scam works.
Basically, the caller gets you to download some software from a link on an email they send you. (They will claim this is necessary to help analyse and fix the problem. In reality, it allows them to see what you are doing on your computer and even take control of it.) They then get you to log in to your bank account ‘to check for a refund they claim to have sent you’ and then they EMPTY YOUR BANK ACCOUNT! People have lost thousands of pounds this way.
Since that first call. I’ve received more calls relating to exactly the same scam. My tactic now is to save everyone time and just hang up without saying a word and getting back on with whatever I was doing.
But this is not the only type of telephone scam ….
So what other types of scam are there?
A relative of mine used to get frequent calls from someone claiming to be from Microsoft technical department saying that there was a problem with her PC. The magazine Business Insider reported that apart from these “tech support” types of scam there were other common types, where the caller (which could also be a recorded message) pretended to be any of the following:
- Companies offering cheap (or free) loans
- Companies or banks claiming problems with debit or credit cards
- Companies promising to lower student debt
- People pretending to be from the tax authorities, some other government authority or a common utility company
- People claiming you had won a prize
- People claiming to be collecting for a charity
- And even people pretending to be a relative of yours!
From this list it appears that just about anyone out there could be trying to scam you. So how can you stop them?