Just when you thought those criminals couldn’t do anything worse they come up with a new scam to rid you of your hard-earned cash. We recently reported about these scams on the radio, newspaper and social networks, however we still receive numerous calls each week with stories of how resident customers are contacted by scammers telling them that they have issues with their PC or that they have contracted a serious virus.
As a reminder, this is how the scam works: they will call the resident and tell them they are an IT firm phoning from Microsoft and that there is an issue with their PC or that they have contracted a virus. They will use general computer terms, saying, for instance, “your office files” or “your pictures” will be lost if not corrected today. Although the scripts vary, generally they will use clever computer terminology like “serious issues in your events log” or “corrupted data in the root of your hard drive” — basically some element to panic you into going to a website that will give them access to your PC so they can “rectify the problem”.
At this stage they would typically get the customer to visit a website that seems to be “scanning” and “rectifying” the problem on your PC. In fact this is no more than a hoax, an animation of something that is going on inside your PC. What you have to be aware of is that visiting these websites could open up further security issues, such as infecting your PC with malware, cracking your existing security software or giving the criminal full access to your PC.
After you’ve had your fake fix or scan you will be asked to pay for it — the amounts vary usually between £35 and £75 and in some cases £100 has been recorded. You will be asked to hand over your credit card information, and if you don’t you may even be threatened with legal action amounting to hundreds of pounds, further strengthening the criminals’ proposition.
If you receive one of these scam calls, try and gather as much information about the incident as you can. Try to get a full name or contact phone number, take note (but never use) any web addresses they give you. If you have call screening and recording facilities on your phone, try to record what has been said and pass this information over to Trading Standards Consumer Direct Helpline 08454 04 05 06 for further investigation so they can build a case against these scammers.
Article written for, and by a proud member of, Norfolk Trusted Trader