Thursday, 2 March 2017

Should You Trust a Number from Directory Enquiries?

The quick answer is "no" and if you do use directory enquiries, you could be ringing fraudsters.
Most people are familiar and wary of scammers cold calling and telling you they are from Microsoft or somewhere similar and offering to aid you in fixing your computer. We know that once they're on your PC, they'll try and take money from you for their "services", and also try to hack any banking or credit card details stored on the computer.
This week, we've found that if you call 118118 and ask for Yahoo! (for instance if you're struggling to access your account) the number they give you could put you straight through to the fraudsters.
The above image is from 118118.com and is the same number given out by 118118 if you call. Yes, there are other Yahoo! numbers, and you may get one of them.
However, we had a client who phoned 118118 to get the number for Yahoo!, then called the freephone number they gave him. Half an hour later, they'd remotely connected to his laptop and encrypted it. They then asked for money from him and said that they'd have to put him through to a Microsoft technician to help, who he would have to pay. At this point, he realised they were fraudsters and hung up. The laptop is a write-off.
Fortunately, a recent back up can restore lost files, but what should you do?
Firstly, don't trust directory enquiries, I suppose. I contacted 118118 to alert them to the fraudsters and ask that they take down the number. They didn't care, saying "Upon checking, the information was actually provided to us by a third party data source Market Location, I would advise you to contact them for permanent deletion." I've contacted Market Location, but had no reply.
Second, have a backup.
Third, double-check the number using other directories and search engines. If you need to contact a specific company, go to their website and use the number they list.
Fourth, be vigilant. Scams like this are becoming more common.
Fifth, have a backup (that's important, so I mention it twice)