From Brechin to Western Isles: virus scam

Friday 11th February 2011
Stornaway. Courtesy: stornoway-portauthority.com

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar are warning consumers in the Western Isles to be aware of a PC virus scam. While households in the Brechin area are warned about an on-going telephone fraud attempting to dupe them into parting with their personal bank details.

Brechin’s Community Policeman, Constable Billy Rattray, has grown increasingly concerned over the number of local people being contacted and the complaints thereafter to Tayside Police.

“It involves a cold caller telephoning a house at random, giving a name and the name of a software firm before stating that the recipient has a problem with their computer system, reports Brechin Advertiser

'“He asks the householder to access a website program and talks them through a process which appears on screen to have resolved the issue.

"The caller then requests payment for the service he has provided, asking for bank or bank card details. This is a common scheme currently being used and people should be aware that if they receive such a call, there is infact no problem with the computer and under no circumstances should they divulge any personal or bank details.

Scams - schemes designed to con people out of their cash – come in many forms, advises Stornoway Gazette  and are getting more sophisticated all the time; and this particular ruse ironically tries to frighten consumers by exploiting their need for greater online security measures.

What typically happens is the consumer is contacted by a cold caller who claims to be working for a well known PC support company as ‘Windows Support’ or ‘Microsoft’.

The Cyber Criminal then tells you that your PC has been sending out error messages, and asks if it has recently been working slowly. Most people will agree that their PC is working slowly. (Don't they always work slowly!)

You are then asked to go to a website and input a code which you are given over the phone. You are then informed your computer is indeed full of viruses which can seriously harm the machine, as well as the files, such as the pictures and documents stored on it.

By inputting this code, you are allowing the caller to remotely access your computer, which allows the caller to install ‘virus software’.

You are asked for debit or credit card details as payment to purchase an Online security contract which ‘protects’ you PC. The scammers claim the contract can last from anything between one and five years. As well as losing money for a service which doesn’t really exist, very often the bogus software which they install will require to be removed from your PC.

If you suspect you’ve been had by a scam, don’t let embarrassment or fear prevent you seeking advice or reporting it. Millions of people are taken in every year. Call Consumer Direct for advice on 08454 04 05 06 or CnES Trading Standards on 01851 822694.

Another facility on offer is the Internet Watch Foundation, a UK Hotline for reporting Criminal online content, confidentially and anonymously.

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