December 15, 2021
Guest Blog: Virgin Media O2 is helping customers stay alert to scams and fraudulent activity this Christmas
By Martyn Elmy-Liddiard, Head of Customer Security Virgin Media O2
At Virgin Media O2, we take the security of our customers incredibly seriously and protecting them from fraud is a priority.
As a business we have long been committed to working with partners across the industry, and with government and law enforcement on initiatives that have direct consumer benefits to help people stay safe.
Leading on fraud initiatives that deliver for customers
That’s why in October we signed up to the UK’s Telecomms Sector Fraud Charter, where we are leading cross-industry initiatives and working directly with the Government to help protect people from the growing threat of fraud. This program will deliver real, tangible benefits to consumers.
To help combat mobile facilitated fraud, we were also a key player in the launch of the SMS SenderID Protection Registry last year. This service was initiated by O2 and developed collaboratively with the wider mobile industry, and is now run by the Mobile Ecosystem Forum (MEF). We invite service providers to register and protect the SMS text message headers they use to communicate with their customers, to help keep them safe. With this collaboration the telecos, MEF, Mobile UK and UK Finance have been encouraging banks, government agencies, and delivery companies (a commonly scammed services in the lead up to Christmas) sign up so that fraudulent messages can be identified and blocked before they intercept a business’ legitimate conversations with their customers. MEF have reported back to us a positive response to this so far – with services seeing a significant reduction in Phishing attacks since joining the program. This is what we want to see and encourage more businesses to sign-up.
We’re also proud contributors to the latest NECC initiative (National Economic Crime Centre) focusing on Bulk Telephony Enabled Fraud. Here the focus is to look at ways in which we can use technical telecoms design to prevent opportunities for fraud to take place against our customers, improve intelligence sharing across the industry and assist Law Enforcement agencies to take appropriate action.
Helping our customers stay alert
As a consumer-focused business, another main focus of our work involves helping customers stay alert to potential scams. Unfortunately, there has been an increase in scams in recent months, with new and sophisticated attempts to con people out of their hard-earned cash. Now, as we hurtle towards the festive season, fraudsters will continue to try get sensitive data from our customers, including using texts, emails, social media and phone calls.
That’s why we at Virgin Media O2 are planning some further outreach to our customers directly, to help remind them of what they can do if they come across something that seems suspicious. We know it might not always be easy to work out if the person you are talking to is who they say they are, so there are a number of things customers should know:
- Virgin Media and O2 will never call our customers or message them via social media or send an SMS to ask for their bank details. If any customers are asked for this information, we urge them to not give any details, to disconnect the call or end the chat and report the incident to Action Fraud or call the relevant customer service line straight away.
- We urge customers to never give their personal information in response to an incoming call, or rely upon the Caller ID as the sole means of identification, particularly if the caller asks them to carry out an action which might have financial consequences.
- If anyone receives a call allegedly from Virgin Media or O2, and they have a concern over the callers’ identity, hang up before calling us back directly to validate the call.
- Should people receive a text messages or email that they’re concerned about, don’t click any links.
If you’re ever in doubt about a number that’s called you, hang up. If it was financially related or claiming to be your bank – you can now can dial 159 to ensure you are put through to your bank directly.
Reporting to 7726 and what customers can do if they think they’ve been scammed
We’ll never ask customers for sensitive stuff like passwords, bank details or other personal security info. If something just doesn’t feel right, we advise customers to hang up, wait for a few minutes, and give us a call back directly.
If customers feel like they might have been the victim of fraud – whether because they’ve given details over the phone, or clicked a link in a text or email and provided sensitive details – there are things they can do, including reporting fraudulent texts and calls so that we can investigate:
- Contact their bank if they think that they may have given out financial information
- Change their account password
- Forward fraudulent texts to us for free to report to 7726 so we can look into them
- Contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040
- Call your Virgin Media or O2 customer services number if they think somebody’s taken out a contract with us using their details
As well as customers’ help with reporting fraudulent SMS, if we see lots of spam calls from certain number ranges, we can block them. Customers can help us do this by reporting spam callers, texting the word CALL to 7726 and we'll respond by asking for the number calling you. If we've got enough information we'll report them to the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO).
At Virgin Media O2, we remain committed to doing all we can to protect customers, and will retain an active role in initiatives across telecoms industry and beyond, so that together we can continue to fight the scourge of scammers.
Find out more at:
About Building Mobile Britain
Building Mobile Britain is a campaign created by Mobile UK seeking to work with national and local government, as well as interested industry groups to overcome the challenges we face with expanding the existing mobile networks, while also developing innovative services for customers.
See here for further information - or #BuildingMobileBritain
Head of Policy and Communications
Tel: 07887 911 076