BT has upgraded its exchanges to help to beat the problems of scammers using lines that are left open.

Scammers often pretend they are calling from a bank in an attempt to obtain financial details from people; now, when a person hangs up, the incoming call to the BT line will be cut off after two seconds. Ofcom has confirmed that similar changes have already been put in place by other phone providers. On previous occasions the line would remain open and scammers have been able to use this to their advantage by telling the customer to hang up and call their bank for confirmation, convincing them that they are making a new call even though they are still connected to the scammer. The scammers pretend to be working at the bank and then try to gain details of the victim’s account.

The work to upgrade the exchanges began in September last year and took 12 months to complete, with mobile operators making similar changes; however, customers are being advised to remain cautious. If they receive a call such as this, they should contact their bank using another phone on a number they are familiar with.

Customers are also being advised to watch out for ‘number spoofing’, which is where criminals copy the phone number of an organisation using software so that the organisation’s number appears on caller ID services. The scammers point this out to the victim as proof that they are from the organisation and are then free to carry out their fraudulent activity.