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Cold-calling 02 scam artists are offering 40% plan discounts, free phone contracts for your security code

They don't seem to like it when you call them out, though.
Written by Charlie Osborne, Contributing Writer on

A new 02 scam targeting customers in the United Kingdom is offering ridiculous discounts and phone plans in return for your one-time security codes. 

Having been the recipient of a cold call from a delightful scam artist today, I'll hand it to them: the lure is strong. 

At a time when the cost of living is rising in the United Kingdom, many of us are worried about the looming energy price cap disaster, and finances are often stretched thin -- the prospect of being the lucky customer eligible for a discount of 35% to 40% on your phone plan is an attractive one. 

At least, that's what the very nice man on the end of the phone tried to sell me. 

The phone call came from Ballygawley in Northern Ireland. The scammer (let's call him James, since that appears to be one of the personas used, according to reports based on the number), sounded delighted in informing me that I was able to take advantage of a substantial discount on my plan. 

Even before he'd finished his pitch, I received a text message which is legitimate 02 communication -- a one-time code that customers can use to access their accounts if they forget their password, for example. 

screenshot-2022-01-14-at-13-01-23.png

This is how the scam works:

  • The cold caller asks if you want to take advantage of the discount 
  • At the same time, the scammer visits the 02 sign in page, types in your phone number, and asks for a one-time code to access your account
  • In order to apply the discount, they -only- need the code they have just sent to your handset
  • If you hand over the code, they can then access your details
screenshot-2022-01-14-at-13-14-07.png

To try and make it appear legitimate, James also told me I would receive a paper document in 24 to 48 hours outlining my amazing discount. I had to move quickly though and could I please give him the code. 

James wasn't particularly happy when I called him out on the scam and tried to defend himself by saying that they are "only allowed to ask customers if they want the promotion," but if I didn't want it, to have a good day. 

I said I hoped he had the day he deserves, and after being called some interesting names laden with profanity, that was the end of the call. 

He was incredibly pushy and made repeat requests for the code. For those that receive this form of scam call, especially if they are vulnerable, not tech-savvy, or elderly, the immediate ping of a text message could be taken as a legitimate aspect of a carrier service call. 

The number, 028 8501 7468, has been searched numerous times since November. Reports suggest the team has also impersonated Carphone Warehouse and Three, and are offering discounts, new phone contracts, and a 100% discount on phone charges. Worth keeping an eye out for -- and as always, you should never hand over these details. If in doubt, cut the call and ring your service provider directly. 

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