According to the ICO, broadband scam calls rank as the most common scam type, with over 1,700 broadband-related nuisance calls between December 2021 and May 2022.
But how can you spot and stop these nuisance calls, and what should you do if you find yourself in this situation?
In conjunction with the broadband experts at Uswitch, we have put together some easy-to-follow advice to help you stay safe and prepared against broadband scams:
1. Prevention is better than a cure
If you’re signing up for something online, the most effective way to ensure you don’t get unwelcome calls is to look very carefully at the checkboxes you’re asked to tick. Sometimes ticking a certain box could give the service provider freedom to share your details with a number of other companies, who could then share your details to further telephone sales companies.
If you want to make absolutely sure you don’t get these calls, you have to look very closely at the companies you allow to contact you. If the small print mentions ‘trusted parties’ or ‘third parties’, you could be allowing the company to pass on your details to them at will.
2. Change your settings to block these calls
On an iPhone, you can easily block numbers by hitting the ‘i’ symbol beside it. You can then manage blocked numbers by going to your phone settings and choosing the Phone option. You’ll then be able to click into a list of numbers that are blocked on your iPhone.
On an Android phone like Samsung or Sony, you can easily block numbers in the call log by selecting the ‘more’ or the 3 dots symbol where you can add to a reject list. You’ll then be given the option to add the number to your reject list, which should stop the nuisance calls and texts. Alternatively, you’ll see an option to block a number when you hang up.
3. Use an app to block numbers
While you can block individual numbers in your phone settings, there are plenty of free apps out there that will give you more control over who contacts you.
‘Hiya’, formerly known as WhitePages, automatically identifies over 400 million nuisance numbers every month and will help you safely identify the ones you want to accept. Other apps that are safe to download include Mr Number, Truecaller and YouMail Visual Voicemail. You can see what these apps do in more detail here.
Before downloading any application always be sure to check the privacy policies, and only download content from trusted sources, e.g., the Apple Store.
4. Your broadband provider is highly unlikely to call out of the blue
Remember that if there is an issue with your router or broadband, your ISP won’t always know about them automatically. You would need to contact customer support to report any problem. If a problem was seen with your batch of routers, your ISP would most likely make an official statement – most likely in an email to your registered account, or via a letter, not a phone call.
If there was a problem with your router, there are simple checks to be done before checking the router itself. All legitimate, trained broadband customer service representatives will ask a customer to run these when contacted. Remember this.
5. Know the right things to ask if you suspect a scammer has contacted you
Ask them who your broadband provider is – If they don’t know, or the answer is something vague like Openreach, then the call is likely not genuine. Legitimate BT customer support staff would not refer to your provider as ‘BT Openreach’
Ask them what model your router is – If it is a generic answer such as ‘BT Hub’ then be wary. If there was a problem, as they claim, they would already know straight away.
Google the phone number that you received the call from. If it is a number associated with your provider, it will be made obvious. If it’s showing results used for a scam, be wary.
They should never insist you run checks on your computer or ask for remote access to your computer.
Always ask why – if they call you, the caller shouldn’t be asking any personal questions, especially not bank details or passwords. Never give out any of this information.
6. It’s always better to be safe than sorry
If you are unsure, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Explain to the caller that you are busy and will contact your provider’s customer service team directly after. If the caller is genuine, they will understand and allow this. And be wary of any urgent tone at this point, as legitimate callers from your provider are trained not to become irate.
Some scammers will attempt to keep the line open so they can pretend to be the company, so if possible, call your provider on another phone or use another method of communication such as a live chat. You could call someone else after alternatively to clear the line first.
8 tell-tale signs of a broadband scam call:
Saying they’ve found a problem with your computer and need access
Asking for banking or card information, your PIN code or a password
Mentioning anything related to PayPal or money transfers
Stating your broadband had been hacked
Mentioning your IP address and saying it’s been compromised
Demanding or asking for anything
Having an urgent or demanding tone
Saying phrases such as ‘we are calling from your service provider’