Warning after phone scammers strike

A Drumsurn woman has spoken out in a bid to warn others about telephone scammers after she was targeted.

In recent weeks, residents of Drumsurn have been phoned by scammers claiming to be from Microsoft and the DVLA.

One of the residents, Patsy Ferris, says she was called by a scammer claiming to be from BT and telling her what her address and date of birth was. Ms Ferris was told she had a virus on her computer and, subsequently, the scammers took control of her computer, accessing it remotely. After a lengthy conversation involving three people she was asked to fill in a form for service costing £395. When she expressed concern they would see her personal details, she was told: “No, we will only see dots.”

The 59 year-old realised something wasn’t right and put the phone down.

“I was stupid and I should have known better,” she said, “but they sounded like they knew what they were talking about. Scammers was the last thing I thought of.”

Ms Ferris contacted BT and was told immediately it was a scam. However, she said she was gobsmacked when some days later she received a bill from BT quoting £96.99 for three calls made to a private directories enquiries line.

“I am very angry and I don’t know what I am going to do,” she said.

BT later contacted Ms Ferris and confirmed the caller was not from BT.

A BT spokesperson said; “Unfortunately scams like this are not new. We advise all of our customers never to give out any personal 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. We would advise anyone concerned that they may be the target of a telephone scam to report the details to the police or trading standards.”

The BT spokesperson said in relation to the charges on Mrs Ferris’s bill: “They are correct. To contact BT, Mrs Ferris used the services of a non-BT directory enquiries provider. When she contacted them, they unfortunately transferred her calls directly, incurring full charges, rather than advising her to hang up and redial as BT helpline numbers are all free. This happened on three separate occasions. To help Mrs Ferris, we have given her additional time to allow her to take the matter up with her chosen directory enquiries provider.”

Sinn Fein councillor Brenda Chivers urged people to be aware of bogus callers who, she says, seem to have targeted Drumsurn.

“Public agencies such as these never usually phone. It’s usually done in writing and I would urge people to be very vigilant. Ask for details, such as phone numbers and names. If they are legitimate that shouldn’t be a problem.”

Police also advise if anyone is unsure of a caller or feel something isn’t right then ask for details to ascertain their identity.

“Ask them if there is a number you can phone them back on or if there is another representative from their company that you can contact, and if you are still unsure about them then contact the company or business to check if the call is genuine. Legitimate companies won’t have a problem with you calling them back. Never give any of your personal details over the phone.”