OTAC scams are the latest kind of fraud to watch out for

Here’s what you need to know about one-time authorisation code (OTAC) fraud – plus, how to stay safe from scams in general.

Scams can have a devastating effect on people’s lives, affecting everything from their bank balances to their confidence. We’re determined to prevent fraud and help you stay safe – which is why we want to fill you in on a lesser-known scam that we often see impacting our customers.

An OTAC (one-time authorisation code) is sent by text to your number when you’re trying to access your account when you’ve forgotten your password. The scam occurs when a fraudster persuades a victim to hand over this OTAC, allowing them to gain access to a victim’s private accounts, networks or systems.

For example, a scammer might call you and pretend to be from O2, offering a tempting 40% discount on your phone bill. To get this supposed discount, they’d say that you need to share your OTAC with them. But they’d actually use this OTAC to access your account – and then order a brand new phone or device in your name. Remember, we’ll never ever call you and ask you to share these codes over the phone. Ever. And you should never reveal codes to others. Read on for more on things we’ll never do – all of which can be warning signs of potential scams.

We’ll never... call and ask for your OTAC or bank details

If anyone calls claiming to be from O2 and asking for a code that’s been sent to you, even if it’s to secure a great deal, hang up. It’s a scam.

We’ll never...tell you to ignore security warnings

Security warnings are there for a reason – to help keep you safe. Genuine O2 employees will never ask you to disregard them.

We’ll never... get angry if you want to hang up and call us back

If you have any suspicion that you might be speaking to a scammer, the best thing to do is hang up and call us back by dialling 202 from your O2 phone. If it’s really us, we won’t mind.

We’ll never... pressure you into making a quick decision

Scammers will try to get you to act before you’ve had a chance to think about what’s going on. If you start hearing things like “this is a limited one-time offer” or “you need to give me an answer right now” – hang up.

And we’ll never… ask you to pay to return a device to us

Fraudsters often try to convince victims they’ve been sent the “wrong device” and trick them into sending it back to their address. We provide pre-paid labels for device returns and only ever to the official O2 returns address, which is O2 Returns Centre, Communication House, Vulcan Road North, Norwich, NR66AQ. If you’re asked to pay for return shipping, it’s a scam.

What to do if you think you’ve been contacted by a scammer

STOP: If someone calls you out of the blue claiming to be from O2, pause and think. Does it feel right? Are you being asked to share an authorisation code or personal data? If you have any doubts, hang up and call us back on 202, free from your O2 phone.


SEND to 7726: Think you may have spoken to or received a text from a scammer? Don’t ignore it; forward it on to 7726. We can block the number and shut down similar scams faster in future.  


SPEAK OUT: Let friends and family know about the scam. By telling others, you can help keep them safe and ensure they’re never caught off guard. 

Published: 06 Jan 2024