Expert tips to avoid broadband scams

Scammers often pretend to be customer-service agents from broadband providers to harvest people’s personal data (PA Wire)
Scammers often pretend to be customer-service agents from broadband providers to harvest people’s personal data (PA Wire)

Broadband scams are seeing a record number of fraudsters reaching out to customers pretending to be legitimate customer-service employees to harvest their personal data.

Their prime goal is to gain access to your bank details, email address, passwords, home address, and other personal details they can use to defraud you.

Max Beckett, a broadband expert at Uswitch, has urged customers to remain vigilant and take precautions against broadband scams.

He shared: “According to the [Information Commissioner’s Office], broadband-related calls now rank as the most common scam type, with 1,730 broadband-related nuisance calls being recorded between December 2021 and May 2022. Usually, these scams take the form of callers claiming to be from Openreach, declaring that there are issues with your router and asking for your details.

“Most of us will be used to getting junk calls on our mobiles. But, with phishing scams becoming more and more sophisticated, it’s important to stay vigilant against unsolicited contact from someone claiming to be your provider.”

So, what can you do to fend off broadband scams? Here are some top tips.

Tips to prevent falling for broadband scams

1. Pay attention to the boxes you tick while signing up for new things

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 with other telephone sales companies.

If the small print mentions “trusted parties” or “third parties”, you could be allowing the company to pass on your details to them.

2. Block nuisance callers

If you answer a call and realise it’s a nuisance call or a scammer, block their number.

On an iPhone, you can easily block numbers by hitting the ”i” symbol beside the number in your recent calls list. You can also manage your blocked numbers via your Settings.

Alternatively, if you’re an Android user, you can block numbers in the call log by selecting the “more” option or the three dots symbol, which will allow you to add the number to a reject list.

3. Use apps to filter your calls

Blocking numbers one by one can be time-consuming and still leave you vulnerable to scammers. So, consider downloading trustworthy call-filtering apps like Hiya, Mr Number, TrueCaller, or YouMail Visual Voicemail.

These platforms will filter out known scammers and allow you to search their database for phone numbers to see if they’re safe.

‌As always, before downloading any apps, check the privacy policies, and only download content from trusted sources, like the Apple Store.

‌4. Remember that your broadband provider is very unlikely to call you out of the blue

Often, when customers have broadband or router issues, they have to contact customer-support services themselves to let them know about it.

Even if your broadband provider decided to contact you, they are more likely to send you an email via the email address you gave them.

How do broadband fraudsters scam you on a phone call?

Here are some signs you should watch out for should you receive a call from someone pretending to be your broadband provider.

  1. Saying they’ve found a problem with your computer and need access

  2. Asking for banking or card information, your PIN code, or a password

  3. Mentioning anything related to PayPal or money transfers

  4. Stating your broadband had been hacked

  5. Mentioning your IP address and saying it’s been compromised

  6. Demanding or asking for anything

  7. Having an urgent or demanding tone

  8. Saying phrases such as “we are calling from your service provider”

What should I do if I suspect a scam?

If you’ve received a call and you’re suspicious about the caller’s authenticity, there are a number of steps you can take to keep yourself safe and further investigate your suspicion.

Firstly, ask the caller what your broadband and router model are. If they are a legitimate broadband-provider representative, they will be able to give you an exact answer. If they give you a vague answer like “Openreach”, the call is likely to be from a scammer.

Secondly, when in doubt, refuse to share personal information. Don’t share your passwords, bank details, home address, or account details.

Thirdly, Google the phone number that’s called you. If it’s a legitimate customer-service number, it is likely to show up on the internet.

Lastly, remember that it’s better to be safe than sorry. If you’re suspicious, tell the caller that you’re busy and you will call your broadband provider’s official customer-service number when you’re free.

If they are a legitimate caller, they will understand and allow this. However, if they are a fraudster, they will become insistent and try to get you to stay on the line. They may also offer to call you back themselves to avoid you calling the broadband provider yourself.