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Talktalk Scams

- by Becky Hall

Were you scammed in the Talktalk scams? Find out here what really happened to you and how the scammers tricked you.

Cashfloat, UK online payday lender, gives information and advice to help you understand how scams work, and how to protect yourself from becoming a victim. In this article you will learn what you should do now to protect yourself and how to avoid scammers and hackers in the future. We also give information on who to contact if you have become a victim of a scam call.

In the second part of this report, we look into the wider issue of cold calling with information about how many phone calls, on average, are cold calls and which people they target. Have you ever wondered where they find your number? We include information about this as well as ways to reduce or block the number of cold calls you receive. Can we all learn something about protecting ourselves even if we were not affected by the TalkTalk scams and hack?

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Talktalk Scams Call

Talk Talk and their customers have become victims of the latest version of a cold call scam. But this time there has been an added twist. In the most recent TalkTalk Scams, customers have been tricked into calling the fraudster; not only are they being robbed/conned out of money but they are paying for the ‘privilege’!

People are becoming increasingly wary of cold calls because of the number of warnings they have received from both the police and consumer watchdogs. Cold calling can be quite wasteful in terms of time and reaching people on the phone. The major advantage of this Talk Talk impersonation is that they can wait to be contacted by their potential victim. This is both cost-effective and efficient.

talktalk scams - cashfloat

Payday Loans Scams

One industry where scams are particularly common is the payday loan industry. The way these scams usually work is that a scammer will contact a person with a loan offer, asking for a small deposit so that they can recieve the loan. They will often claim to be a well-known lender in order to gain the person’s trust. It is important to always check that they are really who they say they are. As well, Cashfloat (and most responsible lenders) will NEVER ask for a deposit in order to lend to you. But how do scams in other industries work?

TalkTalk Scams 2016: How it worked

Step 1: Scammers Discover Victims’ IP Addresses Using Online Ads

Big online advertising networks allow users to win advertising space on websites by bidding at a specific price. Criminals place ads infected with malware which infects users while they are browsing a legitimate site. Users do not even have to click on the ad to become infected. This malware directs users to a website in the background which they cannot see, checks their computer and discovers their IP (Internet Provider) address.

Step 2: Victims See Warning Pop-up Ad

From their IP address, it is simple to identify which ISP owns the address. The victims then receive a pop-up ad apparently from their Internet Service Provider warning them that their computer has been infected and giving them a number to call to rectify the problem.

talktalk scams - cashfloat
Step 3: Concerned Victims Inadvertently Call the Scammers

Like many other scams, the TalkTalk scams works on our feelings of fear and vulnerability, especially when it comes to protecting sensitive data on our computers. The warning looks so authentic and comes from a ‘reliable’ source that many Talk Talk customers phone the number without a second thought.

Step 4: Scammers Pretend to Help Victims

Once the fraudsters receive a call from a distressed customer, they will pretend to be from Talk Talk’s technical support department. They will try to ‘prove’ the legitimacy of the computer infection by asking them to type ‘Windows’, followed by ‘R’ and then type ‘EVENTVR’, which will scare people even more by showing them a list of so-called errors.

Step 5: Scammers Use Remote Access to Install Malware

The scam will now continue in one of two ways. The first is that they will offer to fix the problem by asking permission access your computer remotely. While you are on the phone to them, they will use a website like Teamviewer.com or LogMeIn. With control over your computer, it is easy for them to install banking trojans which can gain direct access to banking data stored on your computer. They also might install malware which joins your device to a botnet.

The second method of conning you out of money is to ask for you to pay a one-off payment of £100-£200 to fix the ‘problem’.

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How Big are the Talktalk Scams?

The scale of the TalkTalk scams is unknown. Scams, in general, are one of the crimes which tend to be massively under-reported. However, Symantec says 2016 saw a 200% increase in technical support scams while a similar scam operation was recently shut down in the U.S. They had managed to make a staggering $17 million in less than three years.

Scanners tend to adapt their scams because they follow recent developments with IT and telecommunication companies. Talk Talk had been having connectivity problems with the DSL3780 routers. Not long after, scammers were using this much-publicised difficulty to claim to be calling about it and con unsuspecting Talk Talk customers out of their hard earned cash.

Which Talk Talk Account Information Was Stolen in the Hack?


talktalk scams - cashfloat

There are other concerns about breaches of security on Talk Talk. In 2014 and 2015, hackers publicised private information from Talk Talk’s databank. People are now wondering if hackers gained access to this data due to the amount of information available to scanners. In the October cyberattack, hackers stole 157,000 customers’ personal details, and 15,600 bank account numbers and sort codes. In addition, 28,000 customer credit and debit cards were among the information hacked. With a total of 4 million customers, this represented 4% of Talk Talk customers being directly affected by the hack.

The loss of customers’ personal details might not seem so dangerous since it did not include financial data. However, hackers stole information including names, addresses, dates-of-birth, phone numbers and email addresses. This is exactly the kinds of things that conmen would need to know to take advantage of you in a scamming phone call. They also use it to commit identity theft and run up bills or take out credit facilities such as personal loans in your name.

talktalk scams - cashfloat

The Aftermath of the Talk Talk Hack

Talk Talk said at the time that there was no reason for concern. Certain digits of credit and debit card codes were obscured by Xs, which they claim is safer than encryption. Some computer security experts have criticised Talk Talk for not taking the necessary online security measures to protect their customers’ data.

The four hackers, all of whom were under the age of 21, were arrested not long after the security breach. Although Talk Talk said that they had improved online security measures, estimates show that 100,000 customers transferred to another phone company. They had lost confidence in them. The hack cost them £60 million, of which £15 million sales revenue.

Protecting Yourself Against TalkTalk Scams

The best way to protect yourself against a scam is to recognise the warning signs that a call is not legitimate.

talktalk scams - cashfloat

Here is a list of things to watch out for when you receive unsolicited calls:

  • You receive a call out of the blue
  • The details of the deal sound too good to be true.
  • A false sense of urgency in the offer so that you will miss an opportunity or something bad will happen unless you respond now.
  • They grill you for a lot of your personal details.
  • Or, by contrast, their contact information is very vague, being a mobile number or a PO Box.
  • They tell you to keep your dealings a secret from other family members.

You should always verify that the people you are talking to on the phone are really who they say they are. The easiest way to do this is by phoning them back on a number you have already for that company, or from the phone book. Never use the number the caller supplies you with. You should always wait before calling back. Conmen have a device to mimic the dialling tone, which leads you to believe they have hung up. In fact, there are waiting on the line. Alternatively, if they phoned to your landline, you could call them from your mobile.

Finally, you should never ever disclose any of your personal details over the phone. Neither your bank nor the police would have any reason to ask for your banking codes by phone, even if there have been unauthorised transactions in the account.


Victim of TalkTalk Scams? What To Do

The first thing to do if you are a victim of the TalkTalk scams, or in fact any scam, is that you should tell someone. Victims are often too embarrassed by their gullibility and so do not report it to anyone. The conmen can then go on and scam thousands of other people without anyone stopping them. It is very important to report scams immediately so that other people will be forewarned and will not fall victim as well. You have nothing to be ashamed of because scammers can be extremely persuasive. You are not at fault, and you are not the only one to be conned. But, you can help to stop others from being scammed.

Reporting a Scam – Who You Should Report To:

If your scam concerned the misuse of a Premium Rate number: Contact the Phone-paid Services Authority (PSA). They are responsible for any goods and services charged to a phone bill.

If the Scammer Impersonated a Company: You should report to the organisation who they pretended to represent. In this way, the company can issue warnings to its other customers. In light of the recent TalkTalk technical support scam, Talk Talk now offers a service to report such calls. A team investigates every single phone number reported. If the complaint is found to be substantiated, then this number is blocked to all of its customers.

Reporting to the Police: Of course, you could report the crime to your local police. But, they send all reports of such crimes to Action Fraud. To save time you could go directly to them. They have an online reporting tool for reporting scams, which takes about 20 minutes to complete. Go to www.actionfraud.police.uk . Alternatively, you could phone them on 0300 123 2040. Either way, you will be given a national crime reference number. Your case will then be referred to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau for analysis by the City of London Police.


Nuisance Calls

Cold calling or nuisance calls are when you receive unsolicited phone calls from companies wishing to sell you goods or a service. Not all cold calls are necessarily scams But, some people say that if we could stop cold calls, then we could filter out the fraudsters as well.

Cold Calling in Numbers – The Facts about Cold Caling

Who Receives Cold Calls?

The consumer watchdog ‘Which?’ has done a great deal to document and combat the problem of cold or nuisance calls. They found that 39% of calls in September 2016 were cold calls. Their survey also revealed that 85% of people asked had received a nuisance call in the previous month. The average household received seven such calls a month. And, 8% of those asked had received 50 or more. More worryingly, their research showed that cold callers were more likely to target the old and vulnerable specifically. Scammers view them as ‘soft touch’. In fact, these groups of people received 64% more cold calls on average.

talktalk scams - cashfloat

In the same research (carried out in conjunction with the trueCall service), ‘Which?’ investigated where phone calls came from. They found that 37% came from regular geographical numbers, 26% were international calls, 12% had their numbers withheld, 15% had unavailable numbers and the rest were divided between mobile and business numbers (such as 0800 numbers).

Of the regular geographical numbers, 3 in 10 were unwanted. But, for the withheld numbers 64% ended up being unsolicited calls. Of the international calls and the unavailable calls, it was estimated that cold calls made up an unbelievable 86%-93% of the total.

As you can see from the statistical evidence, the majority of calls are either international or from withheld/unavailable numbers.

Where do Cold Callers get my Number?

Most cold callers get numbers from paper and online directories. Sometimes they are passed onto ‘third parties’ after you make a purchase online and fill in a form with your personal details.

cashfloat explores talktalk scams

Nuisance Calls Blocker

The consumer protection group ‘Which?’ has been extremely active in making it easier to prosecute nuisance callers. They have secured legal changes so that marketing firms cannot hide behind unavailable and withheld numbers. Currently, they are campaigning further to impose restrictions on such companies. They would like the directors of such companies to be held legally accountable for the methods of their employees by imposing hefty fines on them. Also, they believe that there should be an ‘expiry date’ when consumers agree to their personal details to be passed onto a third party. After that their contact details should be removed from their calling lists.

What Can I Do to Stop Receiving Cold Calls

talktalk scams - cashfloat

There are some ways to reduce the number of nuisance calls you receive:

  • Subscribe to Telephone Preference Service

    The easiest way to stop cold callers is to subscribe completely free of charge to the Telephone Preference Service (TPS). They will remove you from all cold calling lists unless you have given the company calling your consent. If you continue to get these nuisance calls, you can then make a complaint to TPS. They will investigate your complaint. If it is substantiated they will refer it to the Information Commissioner’s Office (IOC). The TPS has no enforcement powers, but the IOC has the power to impose fines of up to £500,000 on companies which ignore someone’s subscription to the TPS. However, the IOC has no powers outside the UK, so you will still continue to receive calls from international call centres.

  • Remove Yourself From the Phonebook

    Another way to reduce the nuisance calls is to remove your name, and phone number all phone directories Make sure that you remove them from both the paper kind and their online versions.

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  • Use A Nuisance Call Blocker

    Speak to your telephone provider about call blocking technology. Some services are free while others will be charged as extra, depending on your company and the type of package you have. Some calls can be blocked from your handset using the privacy settings; you might want to block the last caller or callers from unavailable or withheld numbers. The only problem of making such a general block is that you might inadvertently block friends or health providers like the NHS.

    There are also separate call blocking devices which can be plugged into your phone and screen the calls which you receive. They are more expensive but it depends on how many calls you are receiving and whether the other measures have been successful in reducing the number of times a day you are bothered by cold calls.

  • Screen Calls with Caller ID

    Screening calls with caller display or caller ID can be extremely effective as well. Considering the statistics about the origins of cold calls, you might, for example, decide to block all calls from foreign countries. However, even this is not 100% effective since cold callers can do ‘Caller ID spoofing’. This means that a UK telephone number appears on your caller display even though the call really originates from abroad.

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  • Use TrueCall 38

    A more sophisticated screening system is TrueCall 38. When requested to give your phone number for online purchases, you enter trueCall’s number: 0333 88 88 88 88. If a cold caller tries to contact you, they will instead hear a message from trueCall requesting that they contact you by email instead of by phone. In tests conducted by the Trading Standards, this service was able to block 98% of nuisance calls.

  • Be Careful With Online Purchases

    When you make a purchase online, and it asks for your personal details, including your phone number, there is usually a box which you should tick that gives your consent for them to share your details (or not) with other companies. If you have accidentally given your consent, you can stop further calls by explicitly asking them to remove your number from their list. They must respect your wish. If they ignore your request, you can report them to the ICO for non-compliance.

    However, the problem you might find is that they have already sold your details to more than one company. So, every single one must receive notice that you withdraw your consent. This is the main reason why ‘Which?’ believe that consent should be limited to a set period before becoming invalid.

Lessons learnt from the TalkTalk Scams

There is no doubt that the convenience of being in close contact with family and friends by phone far outweighs the drawbacks of nuisance cold calls and the possibility of being phoned by scam callers.

However, as this guide by Cashfloat shows, there are ways to protect yourself and lessons to be learnt from the TalkTalk scams. Never trust a voice at the end of the phone to be who they claim to be and never reveal your personal details over the phone to a stranger. In this way, you can protect yourself and your money.

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PUBLISHED BY
Becky Hall
Born a writer, Becky Hall figured she would use her talents productively. So, she became a content writer for Cashfloat, and she loves it. A Business and Accounting graduate, Becky scored high, graduating with a first, but also acquired a professional bookkeeping certificate in addition to her main studies. She always dreamed of becoming an accountant, something she still may achieve, but in the meantime, she is helping to break open a new industry of honest and ethical lending. Becky spends her spare time at the piano, with classical music her favourite choice, but will play jazz to keep her baby happy. Nowadays, though, she doesn’t always have much time; Cashfloat has a revolution to make.
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