I recently found out that one of my family members got snagged by a scammer who phoned them up. I thought I’d discussed them previously but it turns out I hadn’t so this blog post is to alert you more tech-savvy people to keep your friends and family safe.
In this instance they phoned someone with hearing problems who thought this was a serious issue and made a 1 off payment and set up a standing order. Luckily this was stopped but the 1-off payment serves as a reminder of what happened.
Usually the scam works like this
- You get a phone call from Microsoft/IBM/Firefox/ETC saying that you have a virus or obscene images/videos have been viewed from your address.
- They will then say they will block/report your account and you’ll lose ALL internet access.
- Keeping you talking they will try to convince you to pay up. Often using threatening language and fear to make you pay up.
- Sometimes they will tell you to find a file which is ‘the virus’ or they will tell you to visit a website that can ‘scan’ your computer.
- These website can give the scammers access to your computer where they will install keyloggers to record your online banking access details.
- You pay them, they go away.
Being a (relatively) youngster – Hush at the back! – I don’t have a land line or pick up my phone if I don’t know the number. I have been house-sitting a friend and received a scam call on their house phone. The guy introduced himself as Microsoft and that my computer has been flagged up as full of viruses and was going to be de-activated and the broadband in the house turned off until it was fixed…but the guy on the phone could fix it.
I did ask him which computer it was and he said it was my one. After explaining that I had lots of computers he told me all of the were infected by the windows virus. ‘Even my linux computer?’ “yes! that has the windows virus!”. I told the guy it might take a while for me to boot up the machines, can he hold? Yes! but be quick!
15 minutes pass and the guy is getting impatient. I explained that Windows had some updates to do and I couldn’t do anything until it finished. It would take 5 to 10 minutes. He suggested I get another computer so I agreed. In total I had him on the phone for 40 minutes before he had enough. He started swearing at me and then hung up. 5 minutes later he called back saying he would kill me and my family!
Such a lovely fellow.
Strangely enough, the internet continued to work and all my family are fine.
My recommendation to everyone is talk to your older relatives and give them the following advice.
a) Your bank wont call you EVER. If they do, tell them to write to you and hang up. Don’t give them any information. Your bank will be happy to write to you always.
b) No-one is proactively monitoring your internet connection so if someone says they are from a company that has noticed ‘strange’ things from your address, ignore them and hang up.
c) Don’t trust anyone who says, “Just call the number on the back of the card to check.” They will stay on the line and you aren’t phoning the bank, just pressing the buttons but you are still connected to them.
d) No bank will send a courier company to collect your cards.
e) Most importantly – they should always know they can contact you for advice/support and you’ll never judge them.
The Met Police have a good list of types of scams. Check out this link and use this as the basis for your discussions.