SCAMMERS!

Oh dear, I need to calm down.  Gertrude is making me an Earl Grey.

Very nearly got scammed. I’m not sure who I feel more cheated by these unscrupulous charlatans or my service provider.

I recently upgraded my internet package to TalkTalk’s new faster service.

This is what happened:

House phone rings. It’s TalkTalk (supposedly), nothing unusual about that they phone on and off when promoting services; usually while I’m busy burning dinner.  They call me by my full name. They don’t ask for any personal details.  They state that I upgraded to their new faster broadband service; true. They state they have monitored my service; plausible – I remember a point in my provider’s information stating that for the first two weeks they monitor the speed so that it’s at its optimum. They stated that there were problems with my service; true – it was brilliant the first week but during the last week I had major buffering issues.  Over the phone they instructed me to perform tests using my computer; not unusual I had followed this procedure once before with TalkTalk and with BT when I was with them.  At no point did I think this is not my provider.  Their perseverance and determination must be admired; I am an IT sloth and had enormous difficulty following their instructions.  When they mentioned a computer licence having expired that was causing my computer to run slowly I became suspicious. Still it could be possible.

“How old is your laptop,” he asked.

“9 years,” I replied.

“You must be very attached to it,”

“No, I can’t afford a replacement.”

Silence.

“Excuse me are you still there?”

“Do you work?”

“Not at present, I’m recovering from a spinal operation.”

Silence again

“I’ll pass you on to my colleague.”

It’s my guess that this telephonic thief momentarily suffered a crisis of conscience.  I like to think he did; it means there’s hope for him.

“I’m Scanlen the scammer.”  I can’t remember his name, I like a bit of alliteration and the name is of Irish origin meaning ‘little trapper’.

“Your modem is faulty, we will dispatch a new one on Monday; your contract is under guarantee therefore you are entitled to a refund.” Miraculously a wire transfer form appeared on my screen. The penny dropped loudly.

“I’m putting the phone down, I know you are scammers, please don’t phone again.”

I wasn’t angry. Fed up, yes, I’d been on the phone for forty minutes.  Two thousand, four hundred seconds that I could have used finishing Sorry by Zoran Drvenkar; a brilliant original thriller. Gertrude made me an Earl Grey whilst I contacted my bank, informed them of the scam and cancelled my bank card.  So far I have suffered no financial loss.  This has not been the case for numerous customers.

http://www.theguardian.com/money/2015/feb/27/threat-to-millions-of-talktalk-customers

Issues and problems involving my children bring out my inner Medusa; the rest of life I take in my stride, not because I can afford to be swindled but because I only have to turn on the news to know that I’m a lucky person.

Knowing nothing about these two shysters I attempt to withhold any animosity and return to my book. Perhaps they are desperate, maybe their families are at risk.  That’s the problem with being an avid thriller and drama reader; plausible explanations pop randomly into your mind accounting for the strange behaviour of others.

What do they know about me? (Obviously enough to convince me of their subterfuge!).  I mean, how do they know I’m not depressed, in debt, or ‘Sleeping with the Enemy’; my husband might come home and lose his rag at me for being so naive. Being duped has so many more consequences than just financial threat or loss.

My definition of conscience is considering the effect your actions have on others. I don’t wish these people ill will but I hope they are stopped.  Honestly, I’m more disappointed in TalkTalk.  Admittedly I am generally three steps behind everyone else.  I’m not always aware of what’s happening in the world or the state of the economy. TalkTalk may feel justified that their customers were sent an email, but I didn’t see it.  Perhaps it went into spam, maybe I deleted it thinking it was promotional information. It certainly did not arrive in my inbox subject emboldened URGENT BEWARE IMPORTANT TALKTALK INFORMATION.  If it came at all it was very low key and mingled in among the other inconspicuous mail that randomly appears in my box. Each member of my family has a TalkTalk sim; we can communicate with each other without incurring cost.  If TalkTalk had texted a warning to us we would have received it 5 times.  When I asked why they hadn’t texted a warning they stated that I’d selected email as my preferred form of communication.  Yes, for general information.  In this case TalkTalk should have utilised all the communication media at their disposal; every customer should have been made aware of the potential risk from day 1.

Hacking, internet fraud, it’s happening everywhere, TalkTalk is as much a victim as its customers because it’s reputation is at stake.  However if they had made the brave decision to alert their customers  publically and directly the fraudsters would have been stopped in their tracks. Power is knowledge.  Thousands of customers would not have been made vulnerable.  More and more I’m losing faith; I think TalkTalk swept their problem under the carpet.

My genuine concern is not TalkTalk, it’s with all the people we place our trust in, the services that we rely on, the people we elect to make good and honest decisions: the police, the church, politicians; I don’t trust them.  Police corruption, sexual allegations concerning priests, politicians fleecing the system..  Yes, somewhere in India, right now, is a person impersonating TalkTalk, cagily worming money out of some poor unsuspecting customer. They’ll get away with it because TalkTalk has not proactively protected this customer; this customer has not seen the email.  But these liars and thieves operate in the underworld, they are not people we have voted to represent us, they have not sworn to uphold the law, they have not made vows in front of God. It reads like a gritty thriller with twists and turns:

Somewhere in a police station evidence is being buried and a policeman lies to protect himself but this will have dire consequences for a victim.

A bishop receives a letter from an anonymous source recounting his experience of sexual abuse by a priest; the bishop throws the letter into the fire, pours himself a large glass of wine while he drafts his sermon.

A politician with a huge bank balance, large detached house, multiple cars, children at private school is claiming his expenses: petrol, window cleaning, gardening.

WHAT IS GOING ON?

Phone scammers are the least of our problems; it’s the schemers that wear a uniform or a suit that we have to be most weary of.  Their duplicity has no probable cause other than greed.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/labour/11416788/Ed-Balls-among-12-shadow-cabinet-members-who-claimed-expenses-without-receipts.html

Ed Balls, so disappointed.  Gardening? Have you completely lost touch.  If you want a gardener, pay for it like the rest of us. If you want your windows cleaned, get out Windowlene,  If you need a shirt, wash the one you wore yesterday; I’m sure you have a top of the range washing machine. How can we vote for you, or any MP who is claiming ridiculous expenses?

I apologise for my rant but actually I’m more upset about Ed than the TalkTalk scam. I’m not digging out MPs that are asset rich; good luck to them, if they have worked hard for their lifestyle, fine, or inherited it, but join the rest of us, pay for your goods and services out of your own money. Cut your hedge yourself, pay for a gardener out of your salary or downsize if you can’t maintain your garden.

Off for another cup of tea and a muffin.

Be Happy. T.

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