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Fraudsters claiming to be from BT

22nd January 2014

Scammers have been cold calling people pretending to be from BT using a trick which makes them think their phone has been disconnected.

Police are reminding people to be aware that fraudsters have been cold calling residents on landlines pretending to be from BT. They claim your latest bill has not been paid and the account is therefore in arrears. 

They then demand that payment is made immediately using a credit or debit card; otherwise the telephone line will be disconnected. They warn that if you do not pay now it will cost a lot more to reconnect it. 

Scammers leave the phone line open

If challenged, the scammers attempt to demonstrate that they are from BT by “disconnecting the phone line for a few minutes”. In fact, the scammer simply presses the ‘mute’ button and remains on the line preventing the victim from making any calls.

The fraudsters can hear any attempts made to dial out and once you have given up they immediately call back to ask for payment or face immediate disconnection.

BT has stated they may have to call you about a debt, but they will never disconnect a phone line during the call.

Although this scam uses the BT name, fraudsters often adapt and could use any other service provider to convince you. 

Don't give out any banking details over the phone unless you're absolutely certain who you're talking to, and if in doubt hang up immediately.

Takes two people to terminate a call

At the moment, when someone makes a telephone call, it is possible that the line can stay open, even though the person receiving the call has hung up.

When the person receiving the call picks up the phone again, they will not get a dialling tone.

Even dialling a number on the keypad makes no difference to the line, which remains open. The telecoms regulator Ofcom is working with the industry to get this changed.

For further information please visit the Thames Valley Police website.

Please note that Action Fraud is not responsible for the content of external websites.

To report a fraud and receive a police crime reference number, call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or use our online fraud reporting tool.

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