Sunday, 8 May 2011

scam warning

A friend, who is a retired IT professional himself, passes on this warning not to respond to scam phone calls which try to get you to give THEM access to your computer and then bill you for allegedly "fixing" virus or other problems on your computer. And how will you pay them? Why, they ALSO get you to provide your full credit card details. The spiel for these calls (often from call centres in India --- what a surprise) is that they have learned "from your Internet Service Provider (ISP)" that you've been having problems with your Windows PC. These calls may be "cold calls" using nothing more than listings in the white pages, or unethical sources such as lists acquired from list-owners who may well have promised you, "Oh, no. We never share your details!" Ha Ha.

Whatever. The simple action to take is to hang up. If you feel chatty, or are intrigued, and if the caller tries a porky such as the ISP yarn, just ask sweetly, "Who is my Internet Service Provider?" They don't know and can't answer that one. Another popular tactic for you, the one who objects to unsolicited calls, is to say, "Hang on, I'll go check" - something of the sort, or say nothing. Then simply leave the phone off the hook. The theory is that eventually they get sick of waiting, and meanwhile you have kept them, for that amount of time, from bothering and scamming someone else. If we all did it, scammers would be out of business quickly.

Others again swear by the device of letting them go through the speech about fixing your (Microsoft) Windows computer, and finally you say, "But I have a Mac", or else "Sorry, I use only Linux operating system" (pronounced linnux), and they are stumped. And others just swear.

It boils down to two things. Don't fall for it or give out personal or financial details. Hang up.

Report such nuisance calls to the police? If you like. The consensus, however, seems to be that that is useless.

Genuine online messages from Microsoft have useful warnings. Remember, these particular scammers are phone callers, not website owners. If asked for ID details, they may offer concocted names of companies, or contact people, or websites, which means you've already been talking to them for too long.

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