While most of us are busy
worrying about computer viruses and hackers stealing credit card
details over the internet, cybercriminals are now picking up the
phone, posing as computer security engineers and convincing
computer users they have a virus on their computer and need to
hand over their details.
Cybercriminals behind the emerging form of
internet scam have been targeting English-language markets
worldwide and racking up credit card bills of $80 - $800
The scam works by criminals posing as
computer security engineers and calling people at home to tell
them they are at risk of a computer security threat. The
scammers tell their victims they are providing free security
checks and add authenticity by claiming to represent legitimate
companies like Microsoft and by using telephone directories to
refer to their victims by name!
Once they have tricked their victims into
believing they have a problem and that the caller can help, the
scammers run through a range of deception techniques designed to
The scam is so believable that 22% of computer users who had received a call were conned into
downloading software, providing credit card information, making
a purchase or giving the hackers remote access to their
computer. 79% of those deceived by the callers suffered
some kind of financial loss and 53% said they suffered
subsequent problems with their computer.
Scareware, or fake anti-virus, is fake
security software which pretends to find dangerous security
threats - such as viruses - on your computer. The initial scan
is free, but if you want to clean up the fraudulently-reported
"threats", you need to pay. Microsoft said that the “most
effective protection lies in consumer education to prevent
people from becoming victims in the first place.”
Be suspicious of unsolicited
calls related to a security problem,
even if they claim to
represent a respected company.
Never provide personal
information, such as credit card or bank details, to an
Do not go to a website, type
anything into a computer, install software or follow any other
instruction from someone who calls out of the blue.
Take the caller's information
down and pass it to the authorities.
Use up-to-date versions of
Windows and application software.
Make sure security updates are
Use a strong password and change
Make sure the firewall is turned
on and that antivirus software is installed and up to date.
Perhaps the only "cure" for this problem is to not answer
the phone when the scammers call. To help with that, Telus and
Shaw have provided several options to block these types of calls.
Click here for more info.