Outfox clever scammers with these tried-and-trusted tips

A major data leak at internet service provider TalkTalk has birthed a clever new phone scam to cheat broadband customers.

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So as scammers’ tactics get ever-more sophisticated, here’s how you protect yourself.

Who do you think you’re talking to?

Here’s what happened at TalkTalk.

An unknown number of customers’ names, addresses and phone numbers were stolen in the security breach. Phone scammers now appear to be using this information to trick people into downloading malicious software.

Such software could be used to spy on victims’ private data.

In a statement, TalkTalk said: “Recently there has been an increase in the number of cases of scammers claiming to be from TalkTalk preying on our customers, and some of them were quoting their TalkTalk account number as well as their phone number. 

“After further investigation, we’ve become aware that some limited information we have about some of our customers could have been accessed in violation of our security procedures.

“Scammers pretending to work for TalkTalk have called them and asked to download software onto their computers, which they say is to fix problems with their machines or broadband service. Once downloaded, the software allows the scammer to take over the computer.”

It assured customers that their dates of birth and credit card details were not stolen.

Meanwhile, the DVLA has also warned against a recent email scam which aims to trick drivers into “verifying” their personal details.

Banks, credit card companies and even Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs have also issued regular alerts about scammers trying to lure individuals into disclosing personal financial information.

Caught in the act

TalkTalk customer Richard Lee-Williams was targeted last year, but was savvy enough to see through the crafty scam.

Richard explains: “My wife received a number of phone calls from someone purporting to be from TalkTalk. They asked for me by name and provided our account number.

“She was advised that they had detected a virus on our computer and said she needed their help to clean the system. With me being an IT engineer and having a keen interest in information security, she thought that it was highly unlikely and quickly realised it was a scam.”

Don’t be caught out

Here are some absolutely fundamental rules to follow when dealing with any company via phone or email:

-A caller CANNOT see if there’s a virus on your computer – even if they can reel off some of your personal details. Remember, for all they know – you don’t even have a computer. You might only use the internet on your phone or tablet.

-Only ever ‘verify’ or ‘confirm’ your details if YOU are the one making the call.

-NEVER provide payment details to anyone claiming there is a virus on your machine.

-NEVER allow a caller to use ‘remote desktop’ to take control of your computer.

-Never tell anyone your PIN number, over the phone or otherwise.

-Be immediately suspicious of ANY call out of the blue to warn you about something. If you suspect a call might not be legitimate, say you’ll call them back – and use the official telephone number of the company they claim to represent; find that yourself, don’t use one they give you.

-Carefully check the sender’s address of any email asking you to click a link or download something. If you don’t recognise it, don’t click anything.

-If the address has something like ‘google.com’ in it, but with other superfluous, suspicious extra parts (think random number and letters) – copy it into an internet search to see if it’s been reported as spam.

-Before clicking a link, hover over it with your cursor. Check if the link that appears in the bottom pane of your web browser matches the one you’re thinking of clicking. If not, it could be a scam. You should click this link.

-Security software is a good idea, but can be expensive and slow your computer down. AVG free and Microsoft Security Essentials are both good for the basics and won’t cost you anything.

-IF IN DOUBT, TERMINATE THE CALL.

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