Finchley: Telephone scam – a warning

This article first appeared in November 2009
by Andrew Taylor

This telephone ‘scam’ has been doing the rounds.

A ‘representative’ of BT informs you that he is disconnecting you because of an unpaid bill. He demands a small payment immediately or you face paying £118 to re-connect. The caller gives his name and phone number – 0800 0800 152. If you sound as if you don’t believe him, he offers to demonstrate that he is from BT by telling you to hang up and try phoning someone, and that he will disconnect your phone to prevent this.

And he does! Your phone goes dead. No engaged tone, nothing – until he phones you again. But it’s a trick – he never hangs up, so you don’t get a dial tone.

Andrew – we need an explanation here I think. Am I right in presuming this is how it’s done?

I think this is right.  If you initiate a call, only you can disconnect it.  DL.

He asks if that is enough proof that he is with BT. He then asks for payment by credit card there and then.

The police recommend we all tell as many people as we can about this scam. The fact that the phone goes dead would probably convince some people it’s real, so let as many friends and family be aware of this. The sad thing is that it will certainly fool the elderly and vulnerable

Sounds a bit patronising, especially if (like me) you’re a 65-year old who is quite capable of biting back.  I suggest something along the lines: “it may deceive some people who are both elderly and vulnerable”.  DL.

. Obviously, once they have your card details there is nothing to stop them cleaning out your account.

You can check all urban myths at www.snopes.com. This one, according to them, is real.

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