Manx Telecom has taken action to help the fight against telephone scams.
Following recent reports of island residents being targeted by phone scam fraudsters, Manx Telecom has made technical changes to the fixed line network to add an extra safeguard against this type of crime.
Recent incidents have involved criminals posing as bank officials to try to get victims to hand over their account details and security codes.
Typically, the scams involve criminals obtaining telephone numbers illegally, calling a number at random, and advising the recipient of the call that there has been fraudulent activity on their bank account.
The fraudsters then give them a number to call immediately, usually saying that this is to contact the security department of their bank or building society.
However, when the person being targeted puts the phone down, the line is held open by the criminals who then play the recorded sound of a dialing tone.
If the same fixed line is then used to dial a number, the call can be intercepted by the criminals who pretend to be a bank official in order to gain information to access accounts and make withdrawals.
The sophisticated nature of the scam means that even members of the public who are aware of the dangers of phone fraud can still be duped.
In a letter in this week’s Examiner, a woman who almost fell victim to the scamsters, alerted readers to the issue.
She demanded that Manx Telecom should deal with the problem.
Kevin Paige, Manx Telecom’s chief technology officer and customer service director, said: ‘This is a very serious issue and we have been working closely with Isle of Man Constabulary and the Communications Commission on what additional safeguards we can provide to protect the public against this type of crime.
‘Following extensive technical investigations, we have this week introduced changes to the fixed line network.
‘The end of call timer has now been reduced to just two seconds, which means that when either a caller or recipient ends a call, the line will close after just two seconds so that fraudsters will find it more difficult to intercept subsequent calls from the same line. However, fraudsters are always finding new methods to carry out this type of crime – so we would urge the public to be vigilant and be aware that banks will only ask for security information, they will not ask for PIN numbers or full passwords.’
Manx Telecom’s improved security measures have been welcomed by the Isle of Man Communications Commission and police.
Home Affairs Minister Hon Juan Watterson MHK, who is also chairman of the Communications Commission said: ‘Manx Telecom’s technical expertise in helping to prevent this type of crime is greatly appreciated by the Commission. This new technical change is a significant development which will support the ongoing efforts of the Commission and the police, to clamp down on fraudsters.’
Anyone who thinks that they have fallen victim to a phone scam should report it to the police, Manx Telecom said.