Can phone scammers see your ISP bills?

art-353-photo-300x0Have you spoken to a virus scammer who seemed to know details of your internet bill?

I think most of us have had at least one call from someone allegedly from Microsoft, claiming that they’ve detected a virus on your computer. If you grant them access to your computer they’ll either plant a virus on your computer or ask for payment for removing a virus which was never there in the first place.

While it’s tempting to just hang up straight away, some people like to string such scammers along – partly for the satisfaction and partly because it’s chewing up time the caller could be spending scamming someone else. Personally I like to ask scammers to hold while I boot up my slow computer, and then just leave the phone on the bench while I go back to work. Sadly they don’t hang on for long, they just hang up after a few minutes and call back later. The best way to string them on is with a long and elaborate tale, which is what my friend Bill likes to do (that’s not his real name, but this is a real story).

Bill is recently retired and receives a few calls a week at home from scammers. They generally ask for him by name, but that’s not uncommon. Bill is in the phone book and there are plenty of other ways to get your hands on a list of names and phone numbers.


When one scammer rang last week Bill had a few minutes to kill so he launched into his usual long and elaborate story. Generally callers claim to be from Microsoft but this scammer didn’t claim to be from any particular company and he didn’t use the word virus. Instead he said he was “able to fix problems with your computer”.

After a few minutes of waffling, Bill threw in the line that usually brings each call to an end; “I’ve got a virus? That’s strange, I don’t even own a computer”. Bill thought that would be the end of it, but the scammer replied; “Well then why are you paying for the internet on your account”. Bill continued to insist that he didn’t have a computer and the scammer asked again why Bill was paying for internet access on his account if he didn’t have a computer. The conversation went downhill from there until the scammer told Bill to f-off and hung up.

Bill has been an Optus cable customer for many years, with his phone and broadband on the one account. The scammer didn’t mention Optus or any other specific details, but Bill had the distinct impression that the scammer was looking at details of his account. He often tells scammers that he doesn’t have a computer, but they’ve never before asked why he was paying for internet access.

It’s possible the scammer was bluffing, taking an educated guess that most people are paying for home internet access. But it’s also possible that the scammer actually had the details of Bill’s account at his fingertips. Bill is on an entry-level Optus broadband/phone bundle aimed at seniors, which would make him a more tempting target than people on high-end plans who are more likely to be tech-savvy.

Maybe it was an educated guess, maybe it wasn’t. Have you ever had a call from a scammer who seemed to know more than they should?
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About Gregory D Evans

Gregory Evans is one of the worlds greatest security consultants. Go to for more details.
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