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 The curious case of the call in the afternoon
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 Return to top of page · Post #: 1 · Written at 5:38:55 AM on 5 March 2019.
Relayautomatic's avatar
 Location: Canberra, ACT
 Member since 24 April 2012
 Member #: 1136
 Postcount: 122

As discussed in a previous post there seems to be a number of scams doing the rounds again. There was speculation as to the source of the information that these scammers seem to be able to readily access and I ventured an opinion on the matter. In an odd bit of timing I received a call that gave a hint as to one possible source.

Just a bit of background first. Over the years between my wife and myself for various reasons we have had 25+ mobile phones. Some of these were 2G type and have been sent for recycling while the 3G and 4G have been retained. We have seven active SIM cards of which three are on a monthly plan and the rest are 365 day prepaid with cheaper service reseller 'networks'. (I have found that Aldi SIMs work well in phones locked to Telstra and AmaySIM SIMs work in phones locked to Optus.) This allows us to have a main phone each with an 'only at home' phone as the replacement for the canceled landline. The other phones are used as backup/spares and I have given these numbers selectively to utility companies that I suspect may indulge in a bit of telemarketing and/or conducting surveys. In this way I have kept the main phones reasonably clear of junk calls and texts.

In December last year I changed gas and electricity supplier but they demanded a phone number. Years ago I had set up a phone in my mother's name as a safety phone when she was living alone in Adelaide. After she died I scrapped the 2G phone but kept the SIM and associated number active. I had not used this number since so I gave it to the company as my contact number.

Last Friday afternoon I happened to be standing next to the shelf where I keep the spare phones on charge. The screen on the phone in question lit up and I was able grab it and answer within two rings. I did not say anything just listened. There was a short delay and then the call was switched through to a person. This indicated to me that I was connected to a call centre. Because I did not speak she said 'Hello' and then paused. I could hear other voices in the background which confirmed that it was a call centre and her accent and those in the background indicated that it was located in Manilla. (This accent is very distinctive if you have been there and different from the rest of the Philippines.) I replied 'Hello'. She then asked for me by name. When I replied 'Speaking' she then said my full name and asked me to confirm that I was at a particular address. She then gave my home address. I did not want tell that she had my correct address so I just asked 'What is this about?' She then said that she was calling about my 'recent accident'. Now it is possible that she was just touting on behalf of some 'ambulance chasing' law firm ("Call Blummers!") but I knew there had been a 'your recent accident' scam doing the rounds in 2016. As fortunately my last accident was in 1988, I immediately became suspicious but decided to play along so I might find out how she had obtained my personal details.

I adopted a modified "It's Lenny" approach and reeled off a list of imaginary accidents asking her to tell me which one she wanted to know about. She just said again 'Your recent accident' so I suddenly 'remembered' the 'big one'. I then told her that it is just unreasonable to expect an old bloke like me to keep up with all the silly changes that they kept making to the roads nowadays and anyway those red lights too hard to see if you have to wear glasses particularly when you're on the phone trying to get a time to see the doctor so its no wonder that you might drive though an intersection and anyway if you are on the right the tram should have give way to you and besides trams belong in Melbourne not in Canberra. She wanted to know more so I went on about how the tram had no right to be there and the idiot tram driver should not be allowed on the road if he couldn't steer the thing properly and hit the brakes so he could stop from hitting somebody's car and anyway a tram was too big to be on the road because that is where people drive their cars and passengers should not be allowed travel in trams because they are too dangerous so they should catch a bus so then there would not be any need for trams.

She expressed some interest and asked what had happened to me. So I said that I could not remember much about it but it was a good thing that I had my phone in my hand at the time because when you are sitting up on a cloud you are up really high and the mobile reception is excellent which was good because nice ladies like her would ring every day and you could have a long chat which filled in the time until harp practice which helped because eternity was a very long time. At this point it dawned on her that I was spinning her a yarn. She said something very unladylike and hung up on me. That was a pity because she missed the bit about when you first arrive you are on millennium probation so you are only white robe class and have to learn basic harp. Once you pass that and finish probation you go on to intermediate harp then you are issued a set of wings which means you can build up frequent flier points and travel about to other clouds plus you feel a lot safer because clouds are not very solid and it is a hell of a long way down if you fall off. Once you pass intermediate harp then you can try for advanced harp and if you qualify you get upgraded to silver halo class. However to make gold halo class you have to be able to play the trumpet which is not easy for those who failed woodwind recorder at primary school; but I digress.

I assume that when she asked me to confirm my details she was trying to assure me that it was a reputable enquiry but it came across more like a Gestapo interrogation; "Ve know everythink so don't try to lie!" What caught my attention was that she didn't quite have my name correct.

When the energy supply company had entered my details into their computer database they had somehow managed to swap my first and middle names. This modified name had appeared on all the paperwork they subsequently sent to me and I had not got around to correcting them. My lady friend in Manila had called me on the same number I had given only to that company, she had my home address which was the supply address I gave the company when I always use a different postal address for written correspondence and she asked me to confirm the same modified name that the company had tagged me with. The first two matches may have been sheer chance but not the third!

Now I cannot be sure how the Manila lady got my details; they may have been on a mailing list sold by the company or they have been downloaded from the company's database without approval. I cannot prove that the call came from the company's call centre as there was no caller number shown so I better not name the company.

Do any of our readers like to watch state of Origin on TV?

 Return to top of page · Post #: 2 · Written at 8:53:02 AM on 5 March 2019.
GTC's avatar
 Location: Sydney, NSW
 Member since 28 January 2011
 Member #: 823
 Postcount: 6010

Now I cannot be sure how the Manila lady got my details

Simple, it was on-sold. If you look in the fine print of the energy company's 'privacy' policy you'll probably find something to the tune of they reserve the right to share your information with everyone, including Uncle Tom Cobley.

Today energy resellers are nothing more than middlemen who don't give a proverbial about the end user.

Lately my email address has been spammed more often than usual with all sorts of offers from companies I have never dealt with. Thankfully, these days, there's usually an unsubscribe link (which usually works), but I note that the site I'm taken when I hit the unsubscribe link tends to be some central mailout operation. So, nothing much has changed from the snail mail days when companies on-sold your information.

I note that newspaper sites now prompt me with ads which indicate they have been using tracking cookies, and those ads manage to avoid my ad blocker, too, by showing up as pseudo stories within the newspaper content. One recent example was a prompt for me to buy something from Jaycar which I had not long before Googled.

 Return to top of page · Post #: 3 · Written at 9:40:40 AM on 5 March 2019.
Fred Lever's Gravatar
 Location: Toongabbie, NSW
 Member since 19 November 2015
 Member #: 1828
 Postcount: 880

Relay, you are one funny person!
Laughed at that act with the lady.
Yeah I am usually too tired to muck about but felt chirpy one day and when I got the "internet technician" ring up and tell me my IP address needed changing or something so I acted real concerned and managed to hold his attention for a couple of minutes asking many dummy questions about the phone wires and the keyboard and how I could fix the problem and how much can I pay to get it fixed? . I did blow it a bit by giving him fake bank account numbers and told him my PIN numbers were ABC123 and DEFAULT. He hung up and then rang back spewing abuse, I just told him I was from head office and he had just failed the test and was fired!
Sad that people have got to work for those places to make a "living".
We just let message bank take most calls and call back or let them hear 2CH for a few minutes.
They must be just out of business because most "mail" nowadays in our family or circle is email or text and the phone lines are hardly used?

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