Phone scam nets local

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A Tamahere resident who fell victim to a telephone-based internet scam is keen to warn others of the dangers.

Cold-calling scammers who claim that victims have a virus on their computer have been on the scene since at least October 2010 and the local’s experience shows they are still on the job.

In October 2010 the Ministry of Consumer Affairs began receiving reports of a telephone-based internet scam. The scammers said they were from Microsoft, Telecom or other large companies, according to Consumer.

The scammers would say that the victim had a virus on their computer and guide them through a series of tasks that would “fix” it. Usually those called were directed to a website to download a program, but the program allowed the scammer access to their computer. Alternately, the victim signs up for a pay service that keeps them “protected” for an amount of time – for example, $300 for 18 months.

This scam is sometimes known as the Web Doctor Scam, from the name of the fake protection software. Rather than traditional computer viruses, which are almost random in their infection or transmit like a real-life virus, these scams prey on the gullibility and inexperience of many new users of the internet.

Luckily these types of “phishing” scams can be thwarted by simple critical thinking. Big companies, like Microsoft, will never contact you directly – and remember there’s no way an external party can “discover” anything on your computer unless you have explicitly given them access. The same goes for email correspondence. Banks will never ask for your log in details or account numbers.

If in doubt call the company yourself, before doing anything else (always using a phone number from the phonebook).

Check out all types of scams and what to do about them on the Consumer Affairs website, and internet scams in particular.

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