Phone Scams

phonescamWe have had customers reporting to us since 2008 that they have been targeted by phone scammers.  These phone scams have evolved over time, so we thought we would let you know their latest tricks.  We want to get the message out to as many people as we can.

We’ve had reports of calls not only from companies pretending to be Microsoft & Windows, but saying they are from the customers own broadband provider.  The callers know not only the name of the person they are calling, but the broadband account details.  This strengthens our suspicions on how these bogus companies are collating their information.

Unfortunately, we are unable to elaborate on our suspicions.  One of the companies we have reported this problem to has admitted they have a security problem.  They have told us that the security breach is being investigated, yet people are still receiving scam calls.

The Callers Tactics

The caller uses scare tactics to convince their victim to give them access to their computer.  Common phrases such as; “your computer is reporting errors“, and “your computer is being hacked” is widely reported.

The scammers main aim is to gain access to your computer.  Once they have access they can install malware that monitors everything you do on your computer.  Even after you have ended the phone call and remote session, they can still view your activity.  One of our customers was asked to log in to their online banking during the remote session, fortunately they refused. The caller however started getting aggressive, as is always the case when they don’t get what they want.  Even after the customer had hung-up the phone they typed on the computer “Are you still there Madam?“.

An elderly customer, who had recently lost her Husband had been caught by these scammers.  She had already paid them money on a few occasions, so the scammers persisted.  Every time the customer switched on her computer they would phone her.  If she didn’t answer the phone they would type a message, “We know you’re there, answer your phone!!“.  As you can imagine this was very frightening and invasive.  But, this goes to show that the scammers will stop at nothing to gain access to peoples personal information.

At the end of the call the scammer will then ask for payment for the work they have carried out, the amount can be as much as the high hundreds.  Should the victim say they cannot afford this amount, they will proceed to reduce the amount.  After all they just want your credit or debit card details, the amount of money you pay is irrelevant.

Our Experience

We have had phone calls from these scammers, but luckily we know they are a scam. We keep them on the phone for as long as possible, because whilst they are on the phone to us, they aren’t scamming someone else.

At the beginning of the phone call we go along with them.  We pretend we don’t know anything about computers, act shocked when we eventually navigate to the EventViewer showing lots of errors (which is completely normal for all computers). We let them try and scare us into thinking there is something drastically wrong with our computer, and then as soon as they ask us to go to a website because they want access to our computer, well that is where the “naive computer user” turns into a “knowledgeable computer user”, and we then explain to them that what they are doing is wrong, and that they are scamming money out of people.

During the most recent call we received they became very aggressive and threatening.  They said that they were going to revoke our Microsoft licenses, and that in 24 hours our computer would stop functioning. They also said they were going to get the “FBI” after us, and that they were going to track us down and “choke us like a chicken”!

Think you have been targeted?

If you think that you, a friend or family member have been targeted, we recommend getting the computer checked over.  Even it is just for peace of mind.  The best course of action is to have the computer wiped and reloaded, this will ensure that any programs/malware they have covertly installed is removed from the computer.  If payment has been made to the scammers, you should contact your bank, building society or credit card company immediately.  They may be able to reverse the payment, or at the very least cancel your card to stop them from continuing to take any further money.

Report it!!

It is with the utmost importance that any scam phone calls that are received are reported to Action Fraud.  If you can get as much information as possible from the caller, the name of the company, the number they are calling from, the website they have asked you to visit (but without going on the website, or giving them access to your computer).

Some down, but no doubt many more to go!!

Four people have been arrested in the UK following an investigation into scams involving calls from fraudsters pretending to be IT support staff – Click Here to read the full story.

Raids mounted on fake Indian tech support centres – Click Here to read the full story.

Come and see us, or give us a call on 01460 259 999, we are always more than happy to help.


How Secure Are Your Passwords?

Online security has become more prevalent of late, and having secure passwords that you change on a regular basis is a must.  Here are some Q & A’s to help you out.

Q. I use the same password for all of my online accounts because it’s easier to remember them, is that ok?

A. No, you should use a different password for everything.  Don’t use your dogs name, your date of birth or special anniversary, or the word “password” or “123456”, these are all too easily guessed!

Q. How do I create a secure, but memorable password?

A. When it comes to creating a password it is all too easy to use a pets name, your Mother’s maiden name, or even a memorable date.  However, you can use them as a basis for a secure password.  You can swap numbers for symbols, so an S would become a 5 or even a $, and an E would become a 3, an A could be an @, and an I becomes an !, or an O would become an 0 you get the idea.  Make sure you use a mixture of upper and lower case letters too.  So, once you start putting this into practice your passwords will be much more secure, and your online security will be much improved.

Q. When should I change my password?

A. I’m guessing you’ve probably only ever changed your password because you have forgotten it.  It’s recommended that you change your password on important accounts such as emails at least twice a year.  Put a reminder in your calendar to jog your memory.  It’s a habit worth having!

Q. Is it safe to get my computer to remember my passwords?

A. You should always log out of your emails or any account you are logged into on your computer.  Should your computer become compromised your online accounts will become vulnerable, and as we know from our customers experience trying to do a password reset on an account that has been hacked is far from easy.

Q. How can I remember lots of different passwords?

A. Contrary to popular belief, you can write passwords down in a book, just make sure you keep the book safe.

Now go and change your passwords and make them secure!