By Matt Bentley
A rising number of people have reported random calls from someone with a foreign accent, typically Indian or American, telling them they’ve got a security or other kind of issue with their computer.
This is obviously a scam and it’s worth knowing how it works.
It starts with that call, sometimes bounced through a NZ landline number, and the suggestion that there’s a problem with your computer.
If you capitulate, they tell you to do a bunch of things on your computer, which gives them access to it.
They then access your computer and do some stuff on screen while in the background installing a program which they can use to control your computer at a later point.
They tell you they can fix the problem but it’ll cost a certain amount of money.
If you don’t pay, they’ll bombard you with calls telling you the problem is still there and they need to fix it.
If you ignore this, they use the program they installed in the background to lock your computer so you can’t use it, typically after a month or so.
Luckily, even if you have gone along with their instructions at some point, the problem is easily solvable.
If not, here’s the best way to deal with these critters:
- Record the phone call or take down their phone number if you can.
- Don’t do anything they say.
- If you want to, you can string them along for a minute or so, but after that, tell them you know they’re a scammer and hang up on them.
- Don’t answer any more calls from them. They may call on multiple numbers, but keep hanging up. Eventually they will get the message.
- Report the incident to your phone service provider, or here at Spark
Of course, if you’ve called someone for computer support that’s a different story.
But unsolicited calls about your computer are always scams. Antivirus packages don’t protect against this sort of activity though they can be useful in preventing other kinds of attacks.
Remember: if unsure, hang up.
Matt will be writing a semi-regular column for Tamahere Forum on computer matters. Check out his website here for contact details.
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