Wednesday 6 February 2019

Stopping the scammers

There was a story yesterday about a man in Flintshire who was scammed out of £15,000 by a caller claiming to be helping him to deal with an internet problem.  This is a growing nuisance.  As someone who has worked largely from home for some years, I get a lot of these scam calls, and on this one in particular, people claiming to be from ‘BT Technical Department’ seem to phone on a more or less weekly basis.
If I have nothing better to do, I’m afraid that I’m rather naughty with them, and play them along for a while with the objective of keeping them on the phone as long as possible (the record to date is 28 minutes) by asking them to provide ever more detailed explanations of what they’re saying, or even to repeat themselves because I can’t understand their (usually Asian) accents.  Calling them out for what they are just when they get to the point that they think I’m going to download their software and let them look at or control my computer isn’t generally popular with them, although it doesn’t seem to stop them trying again a few days later.  Perhaps they’re using me as a training resource, but the more time they spend talking to me the less time they have to spend scamming someone else.
Anyway, I had an almost ‘honest’ one on the phone a week or two ago.  When he got to the relevant point in his script, I said to him something along the lines of “You must think I’m stupid”.  His response was that yes, he did think I was stupid, but not just me – all the people in the UK.  In not quite so many words he told me “I phone people in the UK every day and take their money” before launching into an expletive-ridden dialogue about me having wasted his time and calling me a rude name before hanging up.
Obviously, not everyone is as tech-savvy as me when it comes to their ‘explanations’ of how they know my computer has been compromised; and this isn’t the only type of scam around.  Others are more vulnerable and other types of scam can hook them in.  There are things people can do to protect themselves, but not all of them help a great deal.  Some of these scams come from legitimate-looking telephone numbers, but they’re actually spoofed.  And the problem with that is that it’s impossible to block a caller who spoofs a different number every time they call.  But, given the prevalence of these scams, given the significant amounts of money which they are taking from people – why are they getting away with spoofing telephone numbers?  I can honestly think of no valid reason why anyone should be allowed to make a call and provide an incorrect identity as to the source of the call.  Removing that facility won’t stop the scammers, but it would provide just a little more protection for vulnerable consumers – or even those, like me, who are just fed up of the repetitive nature of these calls.


C Thomas said...

The best way to stop these telephone scammers is to buy a phone which blocks nuisance calls.

I bought one just over a year ago, and I havn't had one nuisance call since.

Money well spent

John Dixon said...

Did you actually read the post here? Yes you can block nuisance calls - and I do. But when they come from a different - apparently genuine UK landline number every time - you can rapidly run out of blocking capacity. And you have to know that it's a nuisance call to block it.

C Thomas said...

Yes I did read the post. The phones I mentioned works on a different principle than yours.With the call blocker phone, members on the contact list are put straight through, but ones that you block will be rejected. For all other calls, the virtual assistant asks the caller for their name, and then asks you if you want to accept. Scammers will 99.9% of the time will NOT give their names, and therefore the call will be rejected.

John Dixon said...

OK, fair comment - we were talking about different things. The point of the original post still stands, however - which is that there is no good reason for allowing people to 'spoof' their numbers, and obliging people to purchase a different phone is no real substitute for the telecomms companies removing 'spoofing' facility.

Anonymous said...

How to stop scammers. Lesson 1.

Ring-Ring. Ring-Ring.

'Helo this David, and I'm calling from BT...your internet provider....Microsoft.....

'Bore da David' ' Sut wyt ti heddiw?' Sut mae pethau?'

'I'm sorry, I don't understand you'

'Sut mae'r tywydd acw heddiw?' 'Ydi hi'n braf acw?' 'Hen fora budur yma yn Sir Fon heddiw'

'Welais ti'r gem bel-droed neithiwr?' 'Uffar o gem dda?'

9 time out of 10 David puts down the receiver. End of call. Usually within 7 seconds.

What is even better. They do not call back. Probably have me down as a non-English speaker.

Always works.