What to do if you get a scam internet service provider call

Over the last few days I’ve received a number of calls from scammers posing as my internet service provider (ISP). Which? has also noted an uptick in activity from these parasites.

If you do answer a call from them, the best advice is to hang up and block the number they called from. Whatever you do don’t be fooled into providing them with your account details or installing and running any software on your computer. The one call I did answer rather than letting go through to voicemail was amateur in the extreme, but may have easily fooled a vulnerable person.

Scam phone calls are on the riseNumbers that I’ve caught and blocked in the last three days include:

  • 0151 327 3276 and 0151 329 0986

This appears to be an Indian outfit routing calls via a Liverpool number. Their gambit was to suggest that Nigerian scammers had compromised my router. Because my router has no keyboard(!), they needed remote access to my computer to change its address.

Even if the claim was credible, changing the (external) address on a router is usually as simple as restarting it. This is because UK retail ISPs dynamically allocate your address and in some cases, the same one is shared by multiple consumers. I managed to waste 10 minutes of their time by feigning incompetence. They eventually got bored with me and hung up.

  • 020 9637 1427

This is an automated message, claiming that your router has been compromised and threatening disconnection within 12 hours if you don’t press 1 to speak to a technician. Don’t press 1 – hang up!

  • +33 883 571 187, +33 983 215 066, +33 998 826 457, +33 239 932 929, +33 537 542 458, +33 307 433 634, +33 248 324 733 and +33 913 120 655

All of these (French) numbers rang within a few hours of each other. The chances are the number is being spoofed and all the calls originate in the same scammers operation.

Remember:
  • Your ISP will never call you from an “unknown” number.
  • Your ISP will never call and randomly ask for your personal information, such as your account number, bank details, date of birth etc.
  • If you’re unsure if a call is genuine, hang up and contact your ISP on their official number.
  • If you’ve been scammed or an attempt has been made, contact Action Fraud online or on 0300 123 2040.

3 comments

  • Phil Beesley

    Hiding your SSID (i.e. disabling SSID broadcast) is a bit like taking your house number off the wall to confuse burglars. Anyone capable of cracking TKIP key exchanges will discover your “hidden” SSID in seconds. Change your SSID to something meaningful. My SSID is Beesley, which provides no useful data to an attacker but is more memorable than my neighbour’s VM7430xxx

    Any form of obfuscation, or security by obscurity, is mistaken.

  • Andrew Morrish

    Hi Tim – these things come in cycles. I would recommend sharing this advice with most home router users too…

    The following tips will help to use Wi-Fi more securely and to protect personal information:

    Change the wireless network’s default name
    A Service Set Identifier (SSID) is a unique ID used for naming wireless networks and ensures the network name is different to other nearby networks. Ideally you should change the network name from the router’s default. This will make it harder for anyone to identify the browser and guess its default settings.

    Use encryption
    Encryption scrambles messages sent over wireless networks so that they cannot be read easily. If the network is not encrypted then you should enable encryption on their router settings page.once logged on

    Choose a strong password
    Change the password from a default supplied with the router. Make sure the password is easy to remember but would be difficult for a stranger to guess and preferably something with a combination of letters and numbers. Avoid using something obvious such as street name.

    Hide the network ID
    A router broadcasts its SSID to anyone within range. When the option is available personnel should alter the router settings to not broadcast the SSID and therefore avoid alerting hackers to the network’s existence.

    Check that the device does not auto-connect to Wi-Fi signals
    If the device is set to automatically connect to available Wi-Fi networks then personnel run the risk of automatically connecting to unknown and potentially dangerous networks. Personnel should switch off auto- connect on the device settings page – refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for more details.

    This wont avoid the vishing/phishing risks associated with your scammers call, but they might also help avoid other types of risks in the same area – as you say its better to be suspicious of unsolicited calls and fail safe than find your have suffered identity fraud and financial loss through lack of thought and care

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