It has always been something that I had told my clients that if you are unsure about an email – send it to me and I will check it out.
Never ever click on a link in an email unless you are sure its from someone you know and ALWAYS save a file to your phone or PC before opening it!
That seemed to cover the basics of hacks and scammers.
However, I have never really thought much about phone scams, you hear about it in the news and you might just think “oh silly person” and move on. However someone close to me recently was targeted and I was shocked at how thorough, how persistent and how believable it was too! As well as how little the police do.
As I have just hung up on a persistent person portraying from Paypal asking for my Paypal email address .. ahem YOU called me matey! I felt it was worthy of sharing what I have found out and learnt, and maybe it will protect you or your family too.
Firstly, I have to state this is what I came across, did, found out – it will be different for everyone and my post will not to perfect, exhaustive or accurate for everyone – so please take it with a pinch of salt and always report it, do your own investigation.
It all starts with a phone call usually to your mobile
So the phone rings and it might display a number you recognise, or an 0800 number so you answer it.
Ms Large this is virginmedia (or BT, Paypal etc) and your account has had suspicious activity on it and we need to get onto your account and check that its not been hacked. I can hear the call centre chat in the background – which oddly makes it more real.
We are going to ask you to allow us access to your phone so that we can check it out – using something called TeamViewer – is that ok? TeamViewer is used around the world to give IT support, so that they can log into your computer and set up emails or check something – standard practise!!
So you give them access, you have done this before with VirginMedia so you do not think anything is amiss – yet…
BUT this means they now have control of your phone… they can watch everything that you do.. they can get any info on your phone as well passwords, contacts, banking apps, facebook….
Now they say that is great can you log into your virginmedia account via our app and we will have a look around.
Ok so that looks ok – but lets check your bank account – just to be sure – can you log into your bank account using your bank app please
Ok NOW they have your bank details and can withdraw money…
Ok that is great one last thing we need to confirm that you are who you say you are – can you turn the phone around so we can see you (*SNAP* they have your selfie), and of course to make sure that its really is you – can you get your driving license out and point the phone camera at it so we can double check? (*BAM* they have your driving license – which most banks use as second identity checks), oh you cannot find your driving license – maybe check your purse just to be sure?
Ok don’t worry grab your passport instead and we can check on that – ok great thanks that is you verified now (*WALLOP* they have your passport…)
So last thing we are just going to open this browser and website – this will be the last check now.
THAT website they linked to is a hacker website – which downloads various apps, chat apps, banking apps, sniffer apps everything that they need to get ALL your personal data from your mobile.
At this point your phone starts going funny and all these pages and apps start appearing…
CONGRATULATIONS you have just had your identity stolen! You hang up, they hang up – doesn’t really matter they have everything and more than they wanted.
What can they do now?
With the information that they have taken they can;
- take money from your bank account
- open up new bank accounts in your name and run up bills they have no intent of paying
- take out loans in your name
- basically – be you…
- and possibly lots more besides…
Now what do you do?
So a few things that you need to do straight away;
- Turn off your mobile asap
- Call your bank and tell them that you have just had your identity stolen and to check any withdrawals on your account
- ask them stop internet banking
- register the fraud with them
- and of course take any action they require you to take
- Now you need to report this to Action Fraud, they will give you a crime number and you can use that with the next steps (see more from these guys at the end!)
- Cancel any credit cards or cards that you might have used on your phone
- Report your passport as stolen (if they got it)
- Report your license as stolen (if they got it)
- Change all passwords for email accounts, social media accounts, any account that you might have used via your mobile, any websites visited and saved password for..
Cleaning your mobile
So now you get to turn ON your mobile phone – be aware that anything that you do now could still be seen by them
- Switch off WIFI and Blue tooth first
- The simplest way to clean your phone is to do a factory reset – which will wipe everything and put your phone back to basics – not everyone will want to do that however..
- There are companies that can clean your phone for you too
- and you can always take it to your phone provider as well
Read on for more tips (note these are tips for ANDROID phones but should be similar for APPLE and other phones )
- Go to the GOOGLE APP store
- Click PROFILE
- Locate PLAY PROTECT and click it
- Click SETTINGS
- and follow the settings to check your phone
Make sure the phone has the latest system update;
- Go too SETTINGS
- SYSTEM UPDATE
Go to the various browsers on your phone and check open tabs, open window, history, cache
- Make a note and close any open windows that you do not recognise – but DO NOT click on the browser tab just take what info you can before you close that window
- clear cache on all browsers
Remove unwanted APPS
Now they will have installed various new apps on your phone that you need to remove so
- You will see towards the end of this page “newly open apps” you want to make a note of those APPS
- SEE ALL APPS
- UNINSTALL all APPS that you do not recognise
- The APPS you recorded above you want to locate and uninstall – unless you are sure that they are ones you use
- Try to write down any new APPS and the ones removed so you have a record
Once you believe all done go to myaccount.google.com/security-checkup and it will check your phone.
What APPS would they install?
So this is a list of the APPS that I was able to locate – most of them are digital banking apps
- Monese – digital bank account
- Monzo – digital bank account
- Wise – digital bank account
- Revolut – digital bank account
- StarlingBank – digital bank account
- Sendwave – send money to friends…
- TeamViewer – screen sharing app
You might only see the ICON of the APP – so I have included the ones we found below, in case that helps. Sometimes you might only have the APP icon to search against so it can be tough to locate them, but its worth it for the next step.
Sadly is really is not yet over, you will find that they have created accounts on any banking app they installed, you need to contact each one to get any newly created accounts closed. Explain about identity stolen and be clear that they are to close accounts in your name/details.
Interestingly most wanted a selfie as proof …
Check your emails as you will probably start getting emails from these companies saying “Click to confirm account set up” – needless to say DO NOT click that email! But contact them separately and explain the situation.
Keep an eye on the post and anything that arrives NOT in your name – keep and check it out. Anything in your name from something you aren’t sure about – contact them and explain it could be identity theft.
Is that it…?
Not really, as we do not know how far and wide their reach is you need to keep an eye on emails, post, apps and your bank account for a good while yet.
I would suggest that you set yourself up with an Experian account and keep track of your credit score, they also do offer a PAID service that you can flag your account so that any new loan, card or credit check gets flagged as “this person has had their identity stolen therefore please complete additional security checks”. If you are looking to need a good credit rating in the future I think its £25 and money well worth spending.
It can take a few weeks before new loans or applications appear on your account though so you ned to check checking it!
Sad to say when we want through this process and reported it to ActionFraud they replied and explained.. well I will include what they said below.. the gist – not an actionable crime
Home Office Counting Rules set out the circumstances under which we can record a crime and on this occasion the matter you reported to us cannot be classified as a police recorded crime. Home Office Counting Rules for Fraud and Cyber Dependent Crime can be found online at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/counting-rules-for-recorded-crime.
You have indicated within your report that the misuse of your personal details or that of a company trading style played a part in the matter you are reporting. The use of another person’s identity, often referred to as identity theft, is not a police recordable crime. Where the details are used to obtain goods or services, we can only record a crime on behalf of the person or organisation which was defrauded as a result of the misuse of an identity.
An example of a situation in which we could record a crime would be where details were used to obtain credit, the use of which left the provider of credit with a financial loss. In these circumstances we would record a crime for the provider of the credit and look to establish if there was scope for the matter to be investigated.
I think that this shocked me quite a lot – because there was no person or company we could point at – we could not report it. I guess you could report each bank app..
What is my point..
I do have one I promise. So a few people since have asked me about this and when I explained the depth that they went to most people were totally gob-smacked at the details, the pre-paredness how thorough they were and how completely they got all the information that they needed. No one had a clue it was this in-depth and this easy to fall for.
So be careful, not just with emails but with phone calls as well. Just because they say they are from <insert company> does not mean they are. EVEN if the phone number comes from a number that company usually calls you on, EVEN if the text they send also comes from a number they usually use.
IF anyone calls and asks for your email address, phone, account details, even whether you have an account – just hang up. Don’t feel guilt or rude or bad – just hang up. Don’t get into a conversation with them, the longer you are on the phone the higher the chances you will slip and give them something – just hang up.
If anyone else has any stories like this I would really be interested to hear them. Forewarned is forearmed!
Stay safe with your identity people there are some truly devious people out there.