Brand new TalkTalk customer is targeted by phone scammer

A problem at TalkTalk? Say it ain’t so.

Brand new TalkTalk customer is targeted by phone scammer

Last week I got contacted by Bob (he's asked that I don't share his full name for reasons which might become obvious).

Bob is 62 years old, retired, and recently relocated from Lancashire in the UK to live in Bedfordshire, to be closer to his children.

"On buying our house we obviously needed internet, and we selected TalkTalk to provide us with a phone line and broadband internet access," says Bob.

Last Tuesday, a router and phone were installed at Bob's home.

The following day, Bob contacted TalkTalk explaining that he had a problem connecting the router to his desktop computer. The issue was unable to be resolved during the support call.

Tech support scammer The very next day (Thursday), Bob was rung up by people claiming to be from TalkTalk, offering to help him fix his tech support problem.

"It all seemed very plausible," Bob told me. "At their request, after some unsuccessful attempts to fix the issue, I gave them remote access to my iPad which was wirelessly connected to the TalkTalk line. Shortly afterwards, I became suspicious and ended the call. It then took almost 24 hours to confirm it was not TalkTalk as 'their systems were down'."

Bob has a very simple question: "How did the scammers know my brand new ex-directory phone number, which I had only just been given by TalkTalk, and hadn't shared with anyone? Furthermore, how did they know I had a technical issue with TalkTalk (unless every TalkTalk customer has one?)"

Bob says that TalkTalk haven't so far taken his concerns seriously, which is why he shared his story with me.

He rang TalkTalk's cancellations department, "but they didn't seem interested". He has also raised a formal complaint and awaits a response from the telecoms company which, of course, has something of a chequered history.

I don't know how scammers managed to get hold of Bob's brand new TalkTalk phone number quite so quickly. But if I was the person at TalkTalk responsible for investigating the customer complaint, one area of focus would be their call centres - where staff have access to users' personal information and might easily be persuaded to share it with criminal gangs.

Further reading: Security blogger Johnny Rage has an alternative idea on how scammers manage to get their hands on the phone numbers of TalkTalk customers.

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6 Responses

  1. Techno

    November 10, 2016 at 1:06 pm #

    I've shared in these comments before that I am sure my personal details fell into the hands of scammers after Virgin Media accidentally transferred my dormant account to TalkTalk when Virgin offloaded their Virgin National customers.

    This just confirms how utterly useless – and indeed dangerous – this company is.

  2. WiteWulf

    November 10, 2016 at 3:12 pm #

    It's simple: if you've ever bought a new phone and contract in a shop you may have been offered a selection of different phone numbers to choose from. They're held on a central database that all the stores have access to on their PCs. The scammers have access to this database (somehow) and watch as numbers disappear from the list of available numbers and add them to their contact list. Same way as you'll almost always receive a cold call within hours of buying a new phone from someone trying to sell you handset insurance.

  3. Emma

    November 10, 2016 at 3:58 pm #

    I have had the same I have had over 25 calls now and when you get though to talktalk they don't want to know and. The calls first starting just saying I was a talktalk customer but now they know my name and account number which I don't know it. And don't use my house phone. But I wrote it down and it was correct. I asked talktalk how they had got all them details and was told I had given them or it was a guess. Not a happy customer as you can quess.

  4. Bob

    November 10, 2016 at 5:25 pm #

    Bob, if you're reading this my advice is to complain IN WRITING* to TalkTalk. They have a dedicated complaints team (0345 172 0088) but for evidential reasons you should get everything in writing. If they phone you, RECORD THE CALL.

    *Customer Relations Department
    TalkTalk Group
    P.O. Box 346
    Southampton
    SO30 2PW

    See this page for further information and what you must include in your letter:

    https://help2.talktalk.co.uk/how-do-i-make-complaint

    If you're not satisfied they ask that you escalate it to a manager and then their CEOs office. This is optional but recommended.

    Certainly do those two things if you can BUT after 8 weeks has elapsed OR if you receive a deadlock (or final response) letter before that period you are entitled to refer the case to the Ombudsman

    https://www.ombudsman-services.org/contact-us-communications.html

    There is a cost to TalkTalk of around £600 for a case to be heard by the Ombudsman. You are not liable to pay this. It is in their interests to resolve it without you needing to refer it to the Ombudsman.

    You should also make a separate complaint to the Information Commissioner's Office – see their website:

    https://ico.org.uk/

    HOWEVER it wouldn't surprise me if this was an unfortunate coincidence whereby you've been tricked into believing its TalkTalk and it was pure fluke that they guessed you had a problem with your router and that they also guessed your new phone number. Perhaps the previous owner of the number (if any) was also with TalkTalk.

    The alternative is court action through the County Court; you should ideally speak to a solicitor if this is the route you decide to go down.

    Best of luck.

    Another Bob.

  5. Nik G

    November 11, 2016 at 10:10 am #

    A friend had a similar thing happen to him a few days ago after getting BT Internet installed last week. So may not just be a TalkTalk problem.

  6. Martin

    November 11, 2016 at 1:33 pm #

    Could it be that they just got lucky dialling numbers sequentially? A TalkTalk customer with an issue.

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