Cold calling computer scam warning


COMPUTER users have been targeted by the operators of a sophisticated scam seeking to gain access to bank details and other personal information on their computer.

Scores of people in Dublin and other cities have reported receiving unsolicited cold calls in recent days, in which a telemarketer seeks to gain access to the person’s computer.

There are several variations to their approach, but most involve a “PC doctor” telling victims their computers are not working properly. The caller, who often claims to be working for “Windows” or to be a Microsoft agent, seeks to get the victim to turn on the computer and go to a particular website.

The calls are long-distance and appear to be made from India, according to a number of recipients.

Callers promise to speed up the victim’s computer, or rectify a claimed fault in the computer, or get rid of viruses. Older users have been particularly targeted by the cold calling campaign.

However, by connecting to the website to which they are directed, users could inadvertently allow scammers to access their computers. Gangs use spyware to spy on what a person does on a computer and keyloggers to record what keys are pressed, and the information gleaned can be used to identify banking passwords and other private information.

In another variation of the scam, the caller offers to “fix” the computer remotely and charges a fee for this, as well as a further fee if the person agrees to sign up to a long-term maintenance deal.

While it is possible to repair computers remotely, consumer advocates say it is very unwise to hand over credit card details to a third party, especially a cold caller, whose credentials have not been checked.