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Friday 2008-11-21



I got a phone call today from someone purporting to be from the fraud department at Barclays, wanting to talk to Emma. They gave me a number she could call them back at. "And if I check your website, will I find that number there?" "Oh yes. And it'll be on the back of her card, too."

So, I go and check the Barclays website. No sign of that phone number. I look on the back of my bank card (which is the same as Emma's, modulo details). No sign of that number. Uh-oh: phishing?

What saith Google? Well, it found one non-content-free hit for the phone number (since then, writing it in different ways, I've found more; see below): a blog post by Charlie Stross, who as well as being a pretty good science fiction author shows every sign of being sensible and wise. He thinks he was being scammed. The evidence he presents is pretty convincing.

So I called Barclays (not using the number I was given by the Mystery Caller) and after some to-ing and fro-ing got through to their fraud department. And, lo and behold, the person I spoke to there confirmed that they had tried to call me, and that the number I was given was genuine.

On the whole, I'm convinced -- if it's a scam operation then they've successfully subverted either Barclays' website or their phone system, and they've done it in a pretty polished way -- but Barclays do seem to be trying pretty hard to give the impression of being scammers.

Other evidence: 2007-01-10, 2007-09-08, 2007-11..2008-10, 2008-06-05.

The number, mostly so that Google can find it: 0800 389 1652 = 0800 3891652 = 08003891652.