back to article TalkTalk CuffCuffs 'ScamScam CrimCrims'

UK ISP TalkTalk is considering cutting ties with its Indian call center provider after three employees at the site were arrested for allegedly scamming customers. The budget telco said police in Kolkata have nabbed a trio of Wipro call center workers as part of an investigation into security practices. Wipro runs the customer …

  1. Fraggle850

    Is that where the tech support scammers got my number from?

    I've certainly noticed a recent rise in the number of Indian 'Microsoft' employees calling to let me know about the viruses on my PC. I quite enjoy these calls, if I've got the time I'll see how long I can keep them on the phone before they realise that I might not be their ideal target demographic. Made it up to level 2 support so far but the supervisor hung up fairly quickly.

    1. HmmmYes

      Re: Is that where the tech support scammers got my number from?

      Yeah. I get these. I got to level 3 with someone trying to help me press Ctrl-R on my WIndows Linux machine

      1. Fraggle850

        @ HmmmYes Re: Is that where the tech support scammers got my number from?

        Kudos and a toast to you, sir. Beats my paltry level 2.

        1. HmmmYes

          Re: @ HmmmYes Is that where the tech support scammers got my number from?

          I know I'd got there as I could understand his English and he knew about the cmd console.

          A better class of remote scammer.

          This sort of stuff puts me off giving my (remote) mother a computer. My inheritance will be down the Ghanges in flash.

          Why IFFS does BT not have a number to ring so they can record where the call originated from? Monitor that and shutdown down and fine the ingres number when you get 100 occurrences.

          1. david bates

            Re: @ HmmmYes Is that where the tech support scammers got my number from?

            MINT fixes the problem...:)

            1. Fraggle850

              @ david bates Re: @ HmmmYes Is that where the tech support scammers got my number from?

              HmmmYes WAS running Linux and he still gets the calls. Unless I'm very much mistaken mint is a Linux distro, not a call screening service.

              Perhaps if Linux reached market penetration approaching that of Windoze the scammers would try it on with Linux? It's a numbers game for them, I wonder what their hit rate is?

              Tried Linux yonks ago but there were no drivers for half the hardware in my tower (must have been 15+ years ago). Think I'm about due to try it again and mint does sound very good. Maybe I should run it dual boot on an old Thinkpad I have floating around - nowt wrong with the hardware, just the usual windows accumulated cruft slowed it to unusable levels and easier to buy another one than sort out the old one. Then I too could post smug one liners on any thread bemoaning windows problems.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: @ HmmmYes Is that where the tech support scammers got my number from?

            I took that exact idea to my MP about calls, who then took it to ofcom, their reply was that telecom's companies like BT said they could not do it technically.

            Only problem is if they aren't holding any call data how the F*&k do they do any billing at all? (Yes,its a big fat lie)

            1. Mark 85 Silver badge

              Re: (Yes,its a big fat lie)

              But yet they will give all this information to an appropriate (or inappropriate) agency. I too, smell BS from them... along with every other Telco.

            2. Kernel

              Re: @ HmmmYes Is that where the tech support scammers got my number from?

              "Only problem is if they aren't holding any call data how the F*&k do they do any billing at all? (Yes,its a big fat lie)"

              Unless BT do it differently to everyone else, what they sell is blocks of terminating minutes to overseas telcos, not individual calls into the UK, so they don't necessarily know what the originating number was, just which overseas telco they got it from. Note: this is different to routing a local number to an overseas support centre, where you do send the calling number.

              There's actually an on-line market where telcos can log in and buy or sell terminating minutes, which are normally at an agreed price for a certain amount of calls on a particular time and date. The fortuitous purchase of a good cheap block is why you sometimes see weekend calling specials eg., from NZ to the UK and Ireland, $5 for up to 4 hours.

              Some telcos, if they have a lot of regular traffic to a particular destination, will register as a provider in the country of destination and set up a "point-of-presence" in that country - if you have the traffic volume it's cheaper to do that and hand off your traffic at in-country termination rates than to buy international termination minutes.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Is that where the tech support scammers got my number from?

      I would say yes.

      I think even BT are susceptible to this. Had a friend I tried to help with a line fault on the internet. Called BT, call centre staff said too busy, will call back.

      Guess who calls 30 mins later, when I've had to leave to do other jobs? Yep, the "Microsoft" scammers calling from "BT helpline" to help with the fault.

      They had to cancel the CC and do a chargeback. Those scammers are scum.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "We are also reviewing our relationship with Wipro."

    As we've found someone cheaper.

    1. nemo183

      Re: "We are also reviewing our relationship with Wipro."

      You see, It's taken me years to get it, but you're absolutely right.. I don't know if you meant this as a joke, but WalkWalk will do anything to save costs and ignore the possible consequences for customers. It's the business model.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "We are also reviewing our relationship with Wipro."


    2. Peter X

      Re: "We are also reviewing our relationship with Wipro."

      "We are also reviewing our relationship with Wipro."

      I think this piece of management-speak actually means they're negotiating terminating the contract due to supplier (Wipro) breach... but it depends how much they're prepared to drop versus their utility as a scape-goat for PR purposes.

    3. MyffyW Silver badge

      Re: "We are also reviewing our relationship with Wipro."

      As we've found someone cheaper.

      ...I shudder to think

  3. Adam 1

    See what happens when you let people copy/paste?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Oh, the good old "look like we are being secure". It's about having a popup box saying "we are keeping you secure by disabling copy paste" instead of, well, keeping you secure.

    2. VinceH

      Before anyone clicks on the Twitter thread linked to by Adam 1 - seeing as it's [almost] Friday, I'd suggest having something alcoholic ready and play a simple drinking game:

      Every time a TalkTalk TwatTwat TweetTweets something to the effect of "We don't allow copy and paste into password fields because..." take a swig of your drink.

    3. Vic

      See what happens when you let people copy/paste?

      Well, from the look of StalkStalk's responses on that thread, Twitter certainly allows C&P...


  4. Gordon 10 Silver badge

    Truly they are the Ryan Air

    Of ISP's

    You want cheap internet? We have it, just don't expect ANY of your personal details to be safe, if our systems aren't hacked our call centers will flog it for fun and profit.

    1. nemo183

      Re: Truly they are the Ryan Air

      No, you're wrong. Ryan Air can change. And when costs are passed on to customers, they are obvious. With TalkTalk, nobody notices.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Truly they are the Ryan Air

      No, you got it wrong, it you should have written:

      You want cheap internet? We have it; expect your personal details to be sold on by our "big data" department, our systems will be hacked and our call centre staff will flog any and everything for their personal fun and profit.

      Standard Terms and Conditions of non-provision of service apply.

  5. Alister Silver badge

    Zero Tolerance

    I was amused to read (on the BBC News report of this incident) that Wipo have apparently released a statement saying the Indian company has a "zero tolerance" policy on data theft.

    Which is good to know, Isn't it?

    I mean, what if they only had a 10% tolerance policy on data theft - would this mean you could keep 10% of what you steal, or that they only punish 90% of the staff who steal data?

    Stupid bloody statement, really.

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Zero Tolerance

      That's for their side of the call center.. across the aisle is the "Microsoft Support Call Center".

  6. jake Silver badge

    That reminds me ...

    I need to take the sighthounds out for a peepee.

    If you don't grok the over-all view of the situation, you're going to get pissed on.

  7. WebdevSean

    Yep - definitely

    The tech support scam was highlighted to several TT team leaders back as far as 2009 ish - nobody cared at the time. To allow a call centre worker who deals with personal data to keep a notebook that they can take home or even allow them a mobile in their pocket whilst working is crazy... We were made redundant based on "cost cutting measures" and our jobs were outsourced... I'll be honest... Best thing that could have ever happened for me but I hope more companies take note... If you pay peanuts - you get monkeys and in most cases incompetent monkeys who will try any way they can to make an extra buck out of your personal data... Time to come back on-shore me thinks

    1. HmmmYes

      Re: Yep - definitely

      Incompetent monkeys - pah!

      Criminal monkeys - another thing.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Yep - definitely

      Yup raised the same thing to several TT TM's and upper management types back in 2009 and up until 2015 - fell on deaf ears until the 21st Oct 'cyber attack', but by that time I had stopped mentioning it because fuck all got done about it.

      I see offshore are still liking their homemade 'Super Tools Launcher' -

      They never learn.

    3. Alister Silver badge

      Re: Yep - definitely

      If you pay peanuts - you get monkeys and in most cases incompetent monkeys who will try any way they can to make an extra buck out of your personal data... Time to come back on-shore me thinks

      Except I'm not sure that bringing back support to the UK would be any better, you will still be employing people on minimum wages, who will still have the incentive to try and monetise any data they can get their hands on. Or are you suggesting that European workers are intrinsically more honourable and trustworthy than their Asian counterparts?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Yep - definitely

        They won't bring it back on shore.

        TT hardly have any money as it is and 1 UK agent = approx 17 off shore agents. No bean counter is going to bring them back to the UK.

        Didn't the Google Analytics account get closed because it wasn't paid?..

  8. Alan Brown Silver badge

    Only three?


    Considering the scale of TT's security issues and the numbers caught when other Indian centres were investigated, this seems implausibly low.

    Perhaps these were the ones who were doing the most blindingly obvious things, like printing off details and walking out the door with them.

    Of course, it's no use complaining to TT about the call centres, as such complaints are investigated (ignored) by the call centres. I'm glad I dumped them a few years ago (and my old phone numbers - so the tech support scammers can't find me).

    1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      Re: Only three?

      Three seems unconvincingly low. Unless the TT call center employed only a dozend or so alltogether.

    2. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Only three?

      After posting the original comment, a thought occurred to me.

      It is entirely possible that the three concerned "just so happen" to be union organisers or similar.

      It's an easy way to throw them under a bus and ensure others don't try to step into their shoes.

  9. Blofeld's Cat Silver badge


    "The breach would end up costing TalkTalk tens of millions in losses ..."

    Remind me again about the cost benefits of outsourcing ...

  10. paulf

    Is it criminal or not?

    "Acting on information supplied by TalkTalk, the local Police have arrested three individuals who have breached our policies and the terms of our contract with Wipro"

    I appreciate India and the UK have different legal systems but I understood that in England and Wales "policy breach" and "contract terms" would represent civil matters not criminal matters. Does this mean local plod has got involved in what are (I assume) civil matters in the local applicable law? This sounds a little odd as plod ought to only get involved in breaches of criminal law, not civil law.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Is it criminal or not?

      Policy and contracts probably forbid this and "policy breach" and "contract terms" sound better than "stealing".

  11. Bunker_Monkey

    That word again

    Wipro....... ummmmmm

    Didn't they do work for Aviva sometime ago and were let go for trying to sell Shares to Aviva Employeer?

  12. Faldinio

    I told them so...

    I used to be a customer of TalkTalk and had multiple scam calls from people telling me they were from TalkTalk, even quoting my account number, which concerned me more than a little bit. My mail to one of their directors, suggesting that their offshore call centre staff may have been involved, was met with the sound assurance that it was being investigated and I had nothing to fear... hmm.

  13. hatti

    Just make out

    Eels frontman E used to pretend he was the local video lending library and suggested callers read more books etc. I've built a takeaway restaurant of the mind to deal with such callers, great fun.

  14. nemo183

    This is trivial. TalkTalk have has an even bigger truth to hide.

    I've worked for TalkTalk for the last five years, and maybe the customers (you suckers) may finally "Get It". You fools think that we're incompetent. Helloooo. Dunstone and Dido, or AH and CF as we call them, are two of the sharpest cookies around.

    AH is worth over £1.5 billion, starting from scratch in 1989 with a loan of £8k, and 3 A levels.

    CF bloused over £6 million in 2014. She was a director of McKinsey, Tesco, and Sainsbury's before joining WalkWalk. She is a non-exec of the Bank of England. She went to Oxford, where she studied alongside the Prime Minister.

    Do you idiots think these two can't run a company? Everything you see around you is designed to be exactly like it is.

    Now here's the biggest laugh. Last year, every customer made us a profit of £12,50. Despite all we'd done, we still trousered that money.

    Think, how much grief did we cause you personally, this year, or any year? Was it more or less than £12.50's worth of pain? Checking the bank, checking the credit report, hanging on for support, finding you've broadband operates at half the speed we said it would? And you know how clever we can be in so many other ways.

    Do you not get it? Without you suffering and working unpaid for us, there is no TalkTalk. The whole business model depends on ripping out costs, regardless of the consequences to you mugs.

    Do you think we give a toss what our Trust Pilot rating is? Each time it goes down, we have a beer. It means we've found another way of making a bit more profit by cutting costs. If we can save a quid, but it means it's more hassle for you, so what?

    If your router catches fire, your house is burnt down with all your possessions, when you phone us all we'll want to know is if your YouView box is OK and demand it's immediate return, while reminding you that you're on an unbreakable contract.

    I'll do you all a favour. Don't get worked up and start thinking you'll complain. You'll write to the board. Threaten this, promise that. Do you not think we get hundreds of this kind of letter a month? Do we give a flying f**k? I think you know the answer. You are tiny , little people who don't matter. You'll even renew your contract when we offer you a deal to say "sorry". You'll think it's too good to say no. But not realise that whatever it is, we know we'll make money in ways you don't get.

    And here's the worse thing. This whole poisonous company contaminates everything and everyone it encounters. You know we can't be trusted, We lie about small things, we lie about big things. Honestly we' don't even notice.We diminish you all. And you've allowed it to happen. You have created this ghastly, perverted system by not realising you're effectively working for us for free.

    I've decided it can't go on. This is why I'm resigning and leaving my unpaid job because my contract runs out next month. Yes, I am an idiot, fool, sucker - call it what you want. But I wouldn't want to be the piece of work you two are, AH and CF. You can take your Chipping Norton set and shove it up your jacksies.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: This is trivial. TalkTalk have has an even bigger truth to hide.

      LOL! Yes, well, we don't usually see that much plain truth here! I can say this, being one who repeatedly dismisses outright any possibility of ever going with TalkTalk. With BT I give reasons I'd rather have no internet.

      Well. That's the thing about being 'in business'. You understand this stuff. It's just a matter of extent.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: This is trivial. TalkTalk have has an even bigger truth to hide.

      Wow and I thought I was bitter - 6yrs service for nothing.

      1. nemo183

        Re: This is trivial. TalkTalk have has an even bigger truth to hide.

        Moi? Bitter? I think not. I'm just sickened.

  15. Wolfclaw

    Wonder why all the numbers that are known to be scammers are not blocked at the international telephone gateways and routed to a premium rate number at £10 a second to tell them they have been blocked or am I missing something ?

  16. Quinnicus


    OhOh MyMy GawdGawd,, YourYour HeadlinesHeadlines GetsGets WorseWorse EveryEvery DayDay! AndAnd DontDont GetGet MeMe StartedStarted OnOn TheThe UnreadableUnreadable Yahoo!Yahoo! Ones!Ones!

    1. VinceH

      Re: HeadlinesHeadlines

      Can't say I remember seeing El Reg double up words for a TalkTalk related headline before.

      I'd like to think they've been inspired to start that as a policy by my comment of a couple of weeks ago. ;)

      (Although one further up this comment thread is better.)

      1. Fink-Nottle

        Re: HeadlinesHeadlines

        I'm tired of listening to you, talking in rhymes Twisting round to make me think you're straight down the line

  17. Maty

    ah yes .... support?

    A while back I got a server with faulty RAM. Called the support line of the company (I won't say which one, but it rhymes with 'hell').

    'Ah', says tech chappie 'I am seeing from your order number that you are in education, so I am to be transferring you to that department.' (cue ten minutes of classical music)

    'Faulty RAM?' says education chappie. 'I am to be transferring you to hardware.' (cue ten minutes of classical music)

    Says hardware, 'This is an education order so I'm transferring you to them ...' (cue ten minutes of classical music)

    Needless to say I've never purchased another box from them, and advised my colleagues against doing so. Multiply by X dissatisfied customers, and how much has their 'low-cost' support service cost the company?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: ah yes .... support?

      " 'Ah', says tech chappie 'I am seeing from your order number that you are in education, so I am to be transferring you to that department.' "

      Dell have premier numbers for education users. They gave them to $orkplace when said supplier was given a choice of being struck off as a supplier (losing a few million £ worth of business and a huge reputational loss, given we're a Russell Group establishment) or giving us a helldesk which worked.

  18. Mark 85 Silver badge

    I'm not sure who is worse off...

    You lads in Blighty or us in the States. You have competition (supposedly good) and we don't (supposedly good). The catch is, we're all getting screwed and never getting kissed.

  19. Nick 23


    Well check this! When I joined TalkTalk it was with a BT number, no problems until I called customer services for something. After each time I called I used to be plagued with these calls.

    I moved and TalkTalk gave me a new phone number, a number allocated by them. I was plagued even more with scam calls.

    I switched to BT and for some reason they ported over my number which I didn't want anymore, strangely as soon as I switched to BT, the scam calls stopped.

    I reported this issue to Dido Harding, I received no response from anyone at TalkTalk.

    This goes to show what a bad company TalkTalk really is and they have no right to challenge BT on Openreach, TalkTalk invest very little on infrastructure and by the looks of it they spend very little on customer services.

  20. ShaunS

    Talk Talk scam

    The number of Talk Talk scam calls is increasing, not decreasing.

    Claim to be calling to fix problems with your router and viruses. The call proceeds with asking you to run Eventviewer (which the caller says is the number of viruses-LOL) Then want you to download Teamviewer to enable them to have remote access (to fix your problems).

    They may know your TalkTalk account number, name, address and obviously your phone number. I have had 30 of these calls in the last few months, up to 5 in 1 day. Well done Talk Talk for india employees selling our details to the scammers, who then sell it to other scammers. Sometimes 00201, sometimes other numbers, sometimes withheld number or 'Out of Area;'

    Talk Talk are doing a good PR job but I am not hearing of any action to close don these scam offices. You can hear numerous calls going on in the background when they call.

    I too enjoy wasting their time by playing along. My record is one hour. Our concern should remain with the more niave who may follow the instructions. Wider publicity is required, radio, TV,

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