An elderly man is warning people to be vigilant after he was targeted by scammers.

A man is warning customers to be vigilant after receiving numerous scam phone calls claiming to be from his telephone provider. John Brown, from Darlington, had been receiving missed calls and automated messages from ‘British Telecom’ stating his internet and broadband with Virgin Media would be cancelled.

The messages, which he received almost daily in the space of four weeks, told him he could remedy this by calling a certain number and pressing ‘one’ to speak to someone claiming to be tech support. Already suspicious, the 75-year-old contacted the police and his provider independently, who confirmed the calls were a scam.

Mr Brown said: “First of all, whoever is leaving the message hasn’t done their research because British Telecom and Virgin Media are two different companies. You realise from there that it’s a scam and if you call back you’ll be charged stupid amounts of money. I reported it to Virgin Media who said they have had multiple calls reporting the same thing. I also reported it to Durham Police. There might be other people receiving these calls who don’t realise it’s a scam so I wanted to put the warning out.”

Virgin Media advises customers to be vigilant and consider who they share information with. The provider warned people to take the time to check who they’re talking to before they provide personal information or carry out an action which might have financial consequences, such as pressing ‘one’ to speak to tech support.

A Virgin Media spokesperson said: “Virgin Media takes the security of its customers very seriously. Like many organisations and banks, we will never call our customers and ask for account and bank details or direct them to contact an unknown source. If any of our customers receive suspicious calls, we urge them not to give any details, disconnect the call and report the incident to Action Fraud immediately.”

What to do if you receive a nuisance call.

People who receive nuisance marketing calls, emails and texts is to ask the company to remove their details from their lists, read the small print and be careful about ticking boxes which could give them consent to contact you. People can also report cold calls or texts that either played a recorded voice message or from a real person, to the ICO. The ICO will use the information you provide to investigate and take action against companies responsible.

What is a nuisance call ?

A nuisance call or cold-call is an unsolicited telephone call from a business seeking to attract new customers. Cold Calling is not illegal, however, there are restrictions on how and when a marketing cold-call should be made. The new GDPR regulations along with the ICO’s Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations tighten up these restrictions, and as from 25 May 2018, any organisation involved in cold calling will have to abide by strict guidelines or face hefty fines. The only instance where you can be lawfully cold-called is if you have given consent before being contacted.

In addition, organisations cannot call numbers that are registered with the TPS. The TPS (Telephone Preference Service) is a free service. It is the official opt out register on which you can record your preference not to receive unsolicited sales or marketing calls. It is forbidden for organisations to make telephone contact with anyone registered on the TPS database.

To register with the TPS follow this https://www.tpsonline.org.uk/tps/number_type.html

You can also log a complaint with the ICO here: https://ico.org.uk/make-a-complaint/nuisance-calls-and-messages/

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