Beware of this scam.
Here’s what can happen and it can happen to anyone.
You receive a phone call from someone who claims to be from TalkTalk. He has enough information about your account to convince you that he is a genuine employee of the company. He proceeds to tell you that your computer system has been compromised and that he can clean it for you.
He will then talk you through the process of handing over access to your computer using a remote desktop connection. He will claim that he needs to do this to be able to install security software. When connected he is able to take control of your computer and access whatever information he wants.
The conversation will become exhaustive and you will want to bring it to a close. He will then insist that there is more to do and that you need to stay on the phone to talk about the router.
Your frustration will begin to show and, at this point, the caller will apologise for the inconvenience and offer compensation of £200. For this to happen he will need your bank details to ‘pay’ you. He will then claim that he has ‘accidentally’ paid £5,000 into your account and ask you to transfer £4,800 back. If you go ahead and do this everything will be settled and the long conversation can, at last, come to an end. As far as you are concerned your computer has been cleaned and you have £200 compensation.
But, no you haven’t.
The next time you look at your bank balance you will see a big hole because the fraudster has been able to access your computer remotely and carry out a transaction through your internet banking facility. If you identify the fraud quickly then it may be possible for your bank to contact the recipient bank and recover some of the stolen funds. However, your bank can’t accept any responsibility for the loss as you have authorised the initial payment. They have obeyed your instructions.
As for TalkTalk, they can’t take any responsibility either, as the theft would not have occurred if you hadn’t allowed the fraudster to have access to your computer and your bank details.
How can you stop this from happening to you?
One way maybe to treat every phone call as a scam unless it’s someone you know. This may last for a while but we all have a tendency to forget and become complacent.
Our forgetfulness and complacency is a very useful tool for the fraudster.
Another approach is to keep a list of questions by the phone, ready to throw at the caller.
What business are you calling from?
What is your phone number?
What is your email address?
What is your website address?
Make a note of any answers then take control and end the conversation. Then contact the organisation independently of whatever information you’ve been given. When you get through to the organisation, explain that someone has contacted you and that you have suspicions.
To report a scam phone calls, contact Action Fraud Police(link), this can be done through their website.
Fraudsters know that people are becoming more careful when conducting transactions online but may not be so aware over the phone. It’s easier for a fraudster to be convincing on the phone. They use psychology to manipulate people and they are highly trained at doing so. Because it’s in our nature to be polite and accommodating, they take advantage by persuading people to release confidential information such as bank details or lead you into making a payment into a ‘safe account’ in your name.
They will claim to be from trusted bodies including banks, government organisations and even the police. They may also use information gathered from your social media accounts to gain credibility. They may go to social media accounts of your friends and associates to gather background information that’s useful to them.
Everyone is at risk.
If you think educated, highly qualified people manage to avoid being caught out with this type of scam, think again.
There was a publicised case of a solicitor who was defrauded of£734,000 through a phone scam. The money was being held in a separate account and belonged to a client. The fraudsters phoned the solicitor claiming to be from the bank. The caller insisted that there had been suspicious payments made from the said account.
It was also insisted upon that to prevent any further withdrawals, all the money in the account needed to be moved to a new ‘safe’ account. The solicitor was convinced that this was the bank calling and did everything the caller said.
The money disappeared and couldn’t be recovered. Solicitors are targets for fraudsters because they handle large sums of clients’ money.
Whether we like it or not, we are all vulnerable mainly because it’s so difficult to keep our guard up all the time, but I offer a small, hopefully meaningful, solution.
If you place this warning sign near your phone it could serve as a prompting reminder right there in front of you as you listen and talk. It will generate doubt where doubt should be.
If you click on this image you will be taken to a page where you can download it for free and print it out. In downloading I invite you to subscribe to receive emails from me with, what I hope will be, more useful information.
Be alert and stay safe!