I could write a book on internet scams! I’m sure most readers have received an e-mail informing them that a long lost relative died with a fortune of millions – or that a Nigerian prince needs your help to transfer his money and will reward you… There are a couple of more realistic scams circulating at the moment, that clients have unfortunately fallen for:
The first one is a phone call from Microsoft (or a company claiming to act on behalf of Microsoft) because you have a virus or other problem on your computer. Microsoft are a huge company, and they are probably tracking us more than we realise. But they aren’t so generous that they are monitoring our computers and phoning us to
tell us of problems out of the goodness of their hearts! This is certainly a scam – if you let the scammers proceed, they will ask you to allow them remote access to your computer to fix it, and they will then lock you out of it. You will not be able to log on with any of your user IDs, and will not be able to access any of your files. At this point, they will ask you to pay a hefty fee (I think about £300), to allow you back into your own PC. Unfortunately, if you do pay the fee – they will then have your credit card details – but there is also no guarantee that they will do what they say and let you back in!
The good news is, that this is a problem we can fix, and have done so recently for multiple clients. I can tell you now that it would take an hour of my time to fix it (we charge £54 per hour inc VAT) – but it is best not to let unknown people remote into your PC in the first place.
The second scam I wanted to highlight is telephone related – you may receive a call from BT (or another telephone provider) claiming your bill has not been paid. They then demand immediate payment or they will disconnect your phone line, and say that if you don’t pay now it will cost a lot more to reconnect it. If you query whether you are actually talking to BT, they “demonstrate” that they are genuine by “disconnecting the phone line”. All they do is simply press the mute button and stay on the line, preventing you from making calls. They can hear any attempts to dial out, and once you stop they immediately call back to ask for payment or face disconnection. BT has stated they may have to call you about a debt, but they will never disconnect a phone line during the call. I’m not sure what the scammers would do if you refused to pay (they can’t disconnect your phone line) but unfortunately they will take your money. It seems they are particularly targeting vulnerable elderly people with this one so please warn elderly friends and relatives.
You can report these to Action Fraud on 0300 123 040. If you are locked out of your PC, or have
queries on anything else IT related, please contact us on [email protected].