Avoid falling into scammers’ trap

Saturday morning started with great expectations. Before the really fun stuff could start though, I had to clean some dodgy software off a client’s PC (not for the first time). It was remote control software that had been left on there by scammers in India who had stolen approximately £3,500.

Tuesday, 1st September 2015, 8:49 am
JPCT 150713 Alan Stainer. Photo by Derek Martin

I sorted out the machine and then left (late) to go to the Shoreham Airshow with my family.

Well the resulting tragedy really put things into perspective.

Why, when really bad things like that can happen at any time, do some people seek to create misery deliberately? Really, why?

I don’t have an answer for that and I think that makes me normal.

Instead I would like to help prevent misery from happening to you if I can, because it is easy to avoid.

The scam is simple. Someone calls you and says they are from BT, TalkTalk, Microsoft or some other well known company. They then tell you that they have detected an issue with your computer and that it needs to be fixed. You will be directed to a website and may be instructed to perform certain actions. The result of that is that they gain control of your PC. They can see your screen, move your mouse pointer, type for you, install software and do anything that you can do. They can steal your bank details and credit card information too. Shortly after that you will find money missing from your bank account.

Okay, I have probably simplified things a little, but you get the idea. The advice if you receive a cold call, is to never ever visit the website they direct you to or to follow any of their instructions. Do not give out personal information or banking details either.

If you are unsure whether they are genuine or not, tell them you will call them back, then use a known contact number for the company they claim to be calling from. Do not use any phone numbers they give you!

Don’t be mistaken into thinking that all remote control software is bad. Genuine businesses with your interests at heart do use them. Programs like GoToAssist, TeamViewer and LogMeIn are all very useful products and can help a technician resolve problems remotely. The difference is, they will not call you unless you have asked them to.