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09:15 am: In this age of mobiles and digits, we have come to forget certain quirks of older technology. One such peculiarity is the way that a circuit on a phone line on the British fixed public telephone network can only be closed by the initiator. Or, in English: you can only hang up on a landline from the end that's calling it. If you've been called, there's nothing you can do. I encountered this concept during my childhood, when someone did this accidentally, presumably by failing to place the receiver down properly. We blew a whistle down the line, to try and get them to notice.

More recently, people have been taking advantage of this anomaly, to conduct quite a clever scam. They call you claiming to be the police, and tell you, often with dramatic adornment, that your card has been cloned or stolen and needs to be cancelled. They advise you to phone the number on the back of your card. I had one of these maybe a year ago. The call was very suspicious, so I ignored it, but I couldn't figure out their angle.

The trick is, they never hang up. They fake the dial tone. They fake the ring tone. They pretend to be your bank. They wheedle your PIN out of you. They fake the police. Eventually, they send a courier to pick up the card. And then they go off to the ATM and empty your account.

I was lucky that time, but not everyone is. An acquaintance got taken good and hard. So when they called yesterday, I immediately realised what was going on, scrambled for my iPhone, put the thing on speakerphone, and taped the bastard.

A recording [anyone fancy transcribing it?]

It's quite funny. Especially the ending.

This entry was originally posted at http://morwen.dreamwidth.org/413669.html. Please comment there using OpenID.


[User Picture]
Date:November 6th, 2013 02:53 pm (UTC)
I have to commend your action here hun.
Date:November 6th, 2013 09:34 pm (UTC)
You have a bank whose support line doesn't put you through the whole automated system spiel ? They must be hoping you've never rung your bank.
My parents are being rung by market researchers who use fake numbers (lots of 0s and 1s) purportedly so you can't ring them back but in reality so they can get past withheld number blocks
I rang my bank as £6800 had appeared from nowhere and I told them to return it. Three days later I get a letter claiming they tried to ring me(no messages on my answerphone) so I ring them and they want to tell me they are removing the money I told them to remove but I have to speak to the right person. No wonder they've ended up in the hands of hedge funds :(
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