Posted by & filed under Home Computing, IT Security, IT Support.

Criminals are now getting data from your computer via the phone! Is this some new secret device that the criminals have invented? No, they’ve just found a new way to scam people without technology.

The PC Support Group has received a number of calls recently from irate people who had money fraudulently taken from their accounts. Why did they ring us? Well one such scam company used our support number on their web site so victims unsurprisingly decided to call it. It was quite a shock but I’m pleased to report that we helped as much as possible and have now had the number removed. We have also reported the incidents to the police and trading standards but for now the scam continues and is a real concern.

It would appear that all the individuals had received unsolicited “cold” calls from someone claiming to be their Internet Service Provider (ISP). The caller seemed to have just enough information to make the recipient believe the call was genuine. They then offered “essential” IT support services and somehow gained access to their financial information. Within days they found money had been withdrawn from their bank accounts without their agreement.

Which? magazine also reported in December 2009 that consumers across the country had been called by scammers pretending to be from the computer software giant Microsoft or an internet service provider.

The scam company would 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.

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.

I would advise anyone receiving a cold call about computer support or viruses to show extreme caution. Listen to what they have to say and then politely say that you will call them back (just in case they’re genuine) and put the phone down. You can then use your normal contact numbers or emails to get in touch with your ISP to check whether they have really called about a problem.

The PC Support Group never makes cold calls to consumers and we don’t believe any reputable company would, so you can be pretty sure that if you receive such a call it is a scam.