Computer Scams and How to Avoid Them

A few times a week, we get calls from clients telling us they need a computer checkup before their bank will unlock their account. Why? Because one of the myriad, scum-of-the-earth, internet fraudsters has convinced the client to allow a remote connection to their computer. The con-artists then do their best to try to worm their way into the client’s bank account.

Two main types of scams

1. Cold Callers

You receive a call from someone purporting to be from Microsoft (sometimes “Windows”) or Telstra. The callers try to convince you (often aggressively) that your computer has been alerting them that it has infections and that they need to make a remote connection to it to remove the viruses for you. While they are connected to your computer, they will often ask you to log in to your bank account to “see if it still works”. Whilst connected, they can see everything you are doing, so they get your account number and password and log in later to transfer money to their own account.
Contrary to popular belief, before the call, the fraudsters know almost nothing about you except your phone number. However, they are masters at taking little bits of information gleaned from your responses to innocent sounding questions and exploiting them to convince you that they know lots about you and your computer so that you trust them as being a genuine service.

2. Webpage Scams

You’re searching for something on the internet and, all of a sudden, a window pops up with a dire warning about the security of your computer. Often this warning is accompanied by a loud siren, bell or computerised voice just to increase your anxiety and stress levels. At the bottom of the warning message, a phone number is conveniently provided for you to call to get help. Usually it says it is the Microsoft Helpline or the number of a Microsoft “Certified Partner” or similar. In reality, it is just the phone number of a group of fraudsters.

The reality of the situation is that Microsoft do not see it as their responsibility to help you out if your computer becomes infected – they sell software, they’re not a computer support business – so they certainly wouldn’t be suggesting you give them a call when problems arise.

Often this problem can be rectified by simply shutting down your computer and restarting it. If it persists, though, your computer may have been infected by the last webpage you were on before the message appeared and you will need to give us a call to fix the problem for you.

How to Avoid Future Scams

There will always be new scams as people get wise to the old ones, so how do you avoid getting taken for a ride when the next one strikes?
Keep these three ideas in mind:

  1. There is no way for anyone to routinely monitor your computer or internet connection for infections unless you have SPECIFICALLY set up this service with them at some point in the past.
  2. If your computer was infected and if a built-in service that allowed it to notify Microsoft (or Telstra) actually existed, these organisations don’t have any contact details associated with your computer so they couldn’t contact you even if they wanted to.
  3. Never rely on a support number being genuine if it was provided to you in a warning message. Always look up the number for yourself and be sure that the web page you click on is genuine and not one with a cleverly similar name just designed to convince you it is the real deal.


What to do if you have been Scammed

First of all, realise that you’re in good company – it happens all the time and we see victims from all walks of life. These fraudsters have no morals or scruples and will say anything to convince you they are genuine.
Secondly, if you’ve given the fraudsters any information about your bank accounts, passwords from internet-based or email accounts or you have passwords saved somewhere on your computer, get in touch with the relevant organisations (ie, banks, internet provider) and let them know.
Thirdly, give us a call (9313 1844) and book a time to get us out to check your computer for any “back doors” or “keystroke loggers” left there by the scammers.

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