Warnings continue against phone and on-line scams

File Photo
File Photo

COMPUTER owners are again being warned to be wary of replying to on-line scams.In the last week the Dispatch and Herald have been made aware of yet another on-line scam e-mail which has been circulating the area, as well as a telephone scam - both of which are extremely convincing.

The e-mail purported to be from HM Revenue & Customs Service - HMRC.gov [refunds@hmrc.org.uk] - which advises the computer owner that, “following an upgrade of our computer systems and review of our records, we have investigated your payments and latest tax returns over the past years.”

It then advises the recipient has made an overpayment and asks them to fill in an on-line application form for a refund, giving the card-holder’s name, date of birth, mother’s maiden name, address and town as well as credit card information.

The bank’s name, debit/credit card number as well as expiration date and card verification number are all requested.

The second scam is equally as alarming and demonstrates the techniques used by those involved.

Householders have received a call from a ‘representative of BT’ who explains he has to disconnect the customer because of an unpaid bill. The caller then demands an immediate payment of £31, warning it would be £118 to re-connect at a later date.

He then gives his phone number - 0800 0800 152 - to demonstrate he is from BT.

He then asks the householder to hang up and try phoning someone, saying he would dis-connect the phone to prevent this.

The phone then goes dead - no engaged tone, nothing - until he phones again and explains payment should be made, there and then.

One house-holder refused to pay and, when the caller hung up, he dialled 1471 but the number was withheld.

He then phoned the fictitious 0800 number which was not recognised.

It appears the caller gave the wrong number and that the “cutting off” of the line is very simple; he stays on the line with the mute button on and you can’t dial out - but he can hear you trying.

This is because the person who initiates a call is the one to terminate it. When you stop trying he cuts off and immediately calls back.

And once he has your credit card details, and security number, it can be used for larger purchases.

When contacted about the latest on-line scam, a spokesperson for HM Revenue & Customs said: “HM Revenue & Customs only ever contact customers who are due a refund by post. “We never use emails, telephone calls or external companies in these circumstances.

“I would strongly encourage anyone receiving such an e-mail to immediately send it to us for investigation and delete it from their computer. Send to “phishing@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk””

He also highlighted an important link for computer users to check out giving details on past tax rebate email scam addresses - some 28 in all - including refunds@hmrc.org.uk, services@hmrc.gov.uk, refundform@hmrc.gov.uk, Tax.refunds@hmrc.gov.uk, helpdesk-hm@hmrc.gov.uk and refunds@hmrc.gov.uk

A spokesperson for BT added: “BT is aware of a number of instances where people have reported a similar experience.

“Whilst BT does have debt handling procedures which may involve calling customers, BT never carries out dis-connections during the call by way of proof.

“We advise customers never to give out any banking details over the phone unless they are absolutely certain who they are dealing with.

“If there is any doubt at all, a BT employee will be able to give the customer their employee ID number and an 0800 number to call, where the customer can check that they are who they say they are.

“The customer can also check the identity of a BT person by calling 0800 800 150. If you`re in any doubt whatsoever, play safe and double check.”

Angus Council has also issued advice to those targeted by scammers.

A spokesperson for Angus Council said: “Where people are ‘phoned or emailed asking for personal information such as their date of birth, or their bank account details, the advice is always that people should be very vigilant and should not give out personal or bank details, as this could lead to their bank accounts being illegally accessed.

“If anyone wishes advice about such calls or emails, they should contact Angus Council trading officers on 01241 435600.”