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Frank Hovis

How To Deal With Scammers And Cold Callers

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I tend to play along for a laugh because I don't get many (I think I'm blacklisted by the scammers for wasting their time....).

My Dad will play along for a bit and then say "Well I won't do that because we you know and I know that this is a hoax call"; whereupon they hang up.

I hadn't though before of the advice that used to be given for obscene / heavy breathing calls - keep a police / referee's whistle by the phone and give them a massive blast on it. I heard several people saying they do this on a call-in show this week. I will buy one next time I see one as that sounds the best solution.

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The last two calls I received:

- "Can I speak to the homeowner?"

- "Who would that be?"

- "The homeowner."

- "What's their name?"

(line went dead)

and

- "Hello, this is [insert name] calling from your mobile provider O2. We might be able to save you money. Can you tell me how many minutes you use per month?"

- "If you're from O2, then you'll know better than I how many minutes I use per month."

(line went dead)

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Caller - This is Microsoft. You have a bug in your computer and I will help you fix it.

Me - oh dear! What is a bug? Do you mean a cockroach or something like that?

C - no madam. You just turn on your computer and leave it to me.

Me - OK. It's on. Does it matter that it's an Apple Mac?

C ------------------------------

It's a point of honour in my house to get them to hang up.

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I tend to play along for a laugh because I don't get many (I think I'm blacklisted by the scammers for wasting their time....).

My Dad will play along for a bit and then say "Well I won't do that because we you know and I know that this is a hoax call"; whereupon they hang up.

I hadn't though before of the advice that used to be given for obscene / heavy breathing calls - keep a police / referee's whistle by the phone and give them a massive blast on it. I heard several people saying they do this on a call-in show this week. I will buy one next time I see one as that sounds the best solution.

Funny. I do that too when I'm in the mood, waste as much of their time as possible and I don't get that many such calls. Maybe there really is a scammers' blacklist of time wasters!

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I don't get any......did get a few texts about some accident I had once that I never had, and some personal protector insurance claim I am due on a loan I have never on a mobile phone I no longer have......other than that am I missing out on something?

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Tried the time wasting tactic, but still kept getting cold calls from the same merchants (google sites seem to point the finger at Orange).So, good to hear of the whistle tactic. Will give it a blast...

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I kept a scammer going for a week once (the 'Microsoft engineer here'). Fairly enjoyable if you've got the time, I suppose - but beyond this I see it as almost a social responsibility - if I can keep one of their guys busy for 10 hours or so then that might be worth 1000s of speculative phone calls to people like my mum who might be caught out. It doesn't take up much time - I put the phone on speaker and just keep working...

My favourite bit is when they ask for the last CLSID from the 'assoc' command I say that it is a different hex number. This really confuses them (if you don't know abut this, the last CLSID on Assoc is the same for all microsoft operating systems). I say that it is a different number, and then say 'phew - you've got the wrong number - this clearly isn't the computer you're looking for'!

I also can't resist, if I'm asked to 'press enter', just repeating 'what's presenter?' over and over again (press enter -> presenter). And also insisting that I don't have certain keys on the keyboard (unfortunately you have to say you've got a windows key otherwise they think you've got a mac etc and stop the call (I guess - I've not tried it)).

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I kept a scammer going for a week once (the 'Microsoft engineer here'). Fairly enjoyable if you've got the time, I suppose - but beyond this I see it as almost a social responsibility - if I can keep one of their guys busy for 10 hours or so then that might be worth 1000s of speculative phone calls to people like my mum who might be caught out. It doesn't take up much time - I put the phone on speaker and just keep working...

Partly my motivation, plus interest in the technique.

I had a boiler room scam which might have lasted a week. They've got a possible share but can't say which, build up with several brief calls in the week saying deal imminent, then finally the big reveal and how much do I want to put into it, they've got it at such and such a price (it was one of those pink slip cos of the internet days, genuine regsitered US company but not actual doing anything and with no assets). I said great, if it's that good I'll put £10k into it but first I need to have a look on Motely Fool (an investments board) and ask for opinions on it. Call me back tomorrow. They didn't.

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"I'm from Microsoft and I'm calling about..."

"Wow! You've got a really sexy voice. My hand is down my trousers already.....hello?...hello?..."

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Here's one I had.

'I am calling from Microsoft, there is a wirus problem with your computer.'.

'Oh yes? How do you know I have Microsoft on my computer?'

(Pause) 'Because it is registered with us.'

'Oh yes? What type of computer is it?'

'I don't know.'

'That's strange. If it's registered with you, why don't you know what type of computer it is?'

(Loudly and angrily) It is just registered as microsoft software, isn't it! (Line goes dead).

Another option I've used is just do the same that they do to me, ie, give them a silent call. Just pick the phone up and when New Delhi is patched through after the short delay, let them say 'hello...hello...am I speaking with Mr Owstin Olligrow?' a few times then quietly hang up.

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You could just repeat the same words as they say to you....."what is your name", "what is your name", "how can I help you", "how can I help you".....etc,etc.....

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We think we can help you with your recent car crash.

I don't have a car.

.......

I've told one of these that there'd been a death because of the crash and did that sound serious enough for a claim.

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Caller - This is Microsoft. You have a bug in your computer and I will help you fix it.

Me - oh dear! What is a bug? Do you mean a cockroach or something like that?

C - no madam. You just turn on your computer and leave it to me.

Me - OK. It's on. Does it matter that it's an Apple Mac?

C ------------------------------

It's a point of honour in my house to get them to hang up.

I don't understand the technical aspects of how it isn't possible to track these people down running the Microsoft scam. I personally don't care that much about it -- I just ask if they enjoyed their poo in the street this morning and hang up -- but I'm sure that there are plenty of vulnerable people taken in by this, probably those who are least able to afford it. How is possible that they're able to make these telephone call that are probably free and untraceable?

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When i get a call and they ask for the homeowner i just say hang on i will get them now then just put the phone to the side and carry on as normal whilst listening out for the hello anyone there

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I don't understand the technical aspects of how it isn't possible to track these people down running the Microsoft scam. I personally don't care that much about it -- I just ask if they enjoyed their poo in the street this morning and hang up -- but I'm sure that there are plenty of vulnerable people taken in by this, probably those who are least able to afford it. How is possible that they're able to make these telephone call that are probably free and untraceable?

because most of the time the perps will be overseas in a country where the police forces have no interest in saving stupid foreigners from losing their money. That, and the fact the local police are probably cousins of the mr bigs running the show.

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Friend of mine used to say, 'Can you just hang on a minute?' very sweetly, and then go and switch on the Hoover and leave it blasting into the phone.

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I had a builders/double glazing on the line for about 20minutes,discussing various options of a conservatory a few years back.

They were quite put out but surprisingly professional when I enquired whether being on the 2nd storey would add to the installation time.

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I don't understand the technical aspects of how it isn't possible to track these people down running the Microsoft scam. I personally don't care that much about it -- I just ask if they enjoyed their poo in the street this morning and hang up -- but I'm sure that there are plenty of vulnerable people taken in by this, probably those who are least able to afford it. How is possible that they're able to make these telephone call that are probably free and untraceable?

My elderly neighbour who was scammed out of around £100k, according to her daughter, had told us she was making her Western Union payments (for 'tax' on her '£1m lottery win') to Jamaica.

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I kept a scammer going for a week once (the 'Microsoft engineer here'). Fairly enjoyable if you've got the time, I suppose - but beyond this I see it as almost a social responsibility - if I can keep one of their guys busy for 10 hours or so then that might be worth 1000s of speculative phone calls to people like my mum who might be caught out. It doesn't take up much time - I put the phone on speaker and just keep working...

My favourite bit is when they ask for the last CLSID from the 'assoc' command I say that it is a different hex number. This really confuses them (if you don't know abut this, the last CLSID on Assoc is the same for all microsoft operating systems). I say that it is a different number, and then say 'phew - you've got the wrong number - this clearly isn't the computer you're looking for'!

I also can't resist, if I'm asked to 'press enter', just repeating 'what's presenter?' over and over again (press enter -> presenter). And also insisting that I don't have certain keys on the keyboard (unfortunately you have to say you've got a windows key otherwise they think you've got a mac etc and stop the call (I guess - I've not tried it)).

The last time I had a call about my Windows computer I said that I had just had double glazing installed and didn't need any more. I thought that would be a killer but we managed to go on for about 5 minutes about double glazing on my computer.

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What puzzles me is why they seem to only call landlines. Is this due to cost, or because they know that landlines are more likely to be used by elderly confused people?

In ten years or so, there will probably be very few people using landlines anyway, so the scammers had better start calling mobiles soon or they'll be out of a job!

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