Don’t be caught out by telephone conmen!

The phone rings. A voice tells you they’re calling from Microsoft (or Windows) and that you have a problem with a virus on your computer. They ask you to type in a couple of commands, which bring up a frighteningly technical-looking stream of gobbledygook. According to the caller, this confirms their fears but they can help you fix the problem.

Q: What’s the correct course of action?

A: Hang up. It’s a con. The caller will try to get you to allow them to take control of your computer. They will offer to download a piece of software to fix the problem and ask for your credit card details before apparently carrying out a repair. Typically, the charge is between £85 and £145 to fix a problem you haven’t got! After all, if there were a problem with your computer, how would Microsoft know your phone number?

I’m getting several calls a week from customers who have experienced these criminals. I even know someone who doesn’t have a computer, but still got a call!

If you should be contacted, say nothing and hang up. Then ring Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 – a free call. Action Fraud (www.actionfraud.org.uk) are the UK’s national fraud reporting centre, and they pass on all fraud cases to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, overseen by City of London Police, the force that drives fraud investigation in the UK.

Despite the number of these calls being received, there doesn’t seem to be a great deal of action happening to stop it as, individually, the potential losses are small. But it’s often the older, less tech-savvy computer user who gets taken in by these fraudsters and, by reporting all occurrences, you can help make the authorities realise how widespread it actually is and, possibly, force them to take action.

Don’t let these conmen stop you enjoying you’re computing!

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