Telephone virus scam alertCold callers 'fixing' non-existent PC problems

14 December 2009

Computer users are being warned to be on their guard against a cold calling scam that could leave their banks details and PCs open to criminals.

Some victims of the scam have had their bank accounts emptied as a result of the con.

Which? Computing has heard from consumers across the country who have been called by scammers pretending to be from the computer software giant Microsoft or an internet service provider.

They say there's a virus on the consumer’s PC and take them through steps to fix the ‘problem’ which ends with the consumer allowing criminals remote access to their PCs.

Make sure your computer is virus free by choosing the best security software. Which? has tested both free and paid-for security software.

To add insult to injury, consumers are also asked to provide their credit card details in order to pay a fee for the repair.

Security software

Which? Computing reader Alan Wyatt contacted the magazine to report the scam. He said: ‘I was telephoned by a man saying they were my ISP and he could see that I had a problem affecting my broadband speed. As I hadn’t reported a problem and had never had a call like this before – I was already on guard.

‘The caller then said I should allow remote assistance and that there would be a small fee. That’s when I put the phone down.'

The scam works by making consumers think that their computer has a virus on it. To do this, the scammers lead the consumer to the command prompt computer screen and tell them to enter a code that then brings up a list of errors running on the computer. These errors are normal and don’t affect the day to day running of the machine.

Take a look at our guide to how to report a scam if you come across the problem 

Police e-crime unit

Which? Computing has reported the scam to the Police Central e-crime Unit and Microsoft.

A Microsoft spokesman said: ‘Microsoft is aware of scams such as this and would like to remind users not to trust emails or requests that do not come from a trustworthy source.'

He added: ‘When using a PC that is connected to the internet we also encourage users to download and install legitimate software to guard against viruses, spyware, and other malicious software. Free products such as Microsoft Security Essentials and Internet Explorer will help protect users from online threats and will help everyone realise the Internet’s full potential.’

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