I had a slightly disturbing week this week, with many of my clients getting phone calls from scammers looking to get into their computer.
Many of us get phone calls from the usual telesales person trying to sell insurance, but as of late scammers are calling claiming they are from the ATO, Telstra, Microsoft and even the federal police. They are getting more and more brazen and they are relentless. I have dealt with many clients who have fallen victim to these scams, some of whom have lost thousands of dollars and I worry more about those who are alone and unknowingly believe these phone scams and willingly give over their bank or credit card details because they are afraid not to!
One of my regular clients has been scammed three times in the last 12 months and it’s only through sheer good fortune that they haven’t emptied her bank account. Every time this has happened I have told her vehemently NOT to allow anyone into her computer for any reason, EVER! But alas, they caught her at a vulnerable time, and got into her computer, and whilst keeping her on the phone, managed to transfer over $6000 but she had the foresight to see what was happening on her computer and she turn the computer off immediately after she saw what was happening, which prevented the transaction from being completed. She then phoned me but not however before they had got access to her internet banking, and her account details.
I told her to immediately call the bank and have them freeze any transactions from her accounts, and they managed to stop this transfer in time. The following day I visited her and as I booted up the computer, we got a call from the same scammers, this was only possible as the software they had downloaded onto her computer was monitoring her use and had activated once the computer started. As I was there, I talked to them on the phone, whilst I was removing the offensive software. During the course of the conversation they became very threatening, obviously frustrated and used bullying tactics in order to try to force me to let them back in. Now I have dealt with many of these scammers over time, but to the average computer user, they use strong language and scripts to push you into preforming tasks that allow them access. It is designed to gain your trust then provide pressure to cause you to panic and allow them to gain entry.
Here are a few or my golden rules to keep you safe from these scammers.
- Don’t ever, ever, EVER allow anyone who calls YOU to log into your computer-ever!
- Keep your computer security up to date.
- Never give credit card details, passwords or online banking details to anyone you don’t know. EVER!
- If you like to buy goods and services online, use a debit card you can get from the post office and charge the card with $100 or more specifically for using online, or use PayPal, this will limit your liability.
- Don’t trust emails asking for your details even if they look legitimate, the one big give away is the email address is not from the official website. Plus, banks will never email you requesting login or password details, so there’s another clue. If you are not sure, and want to check your details online, don’t follow the link within the email, type in the website yourself to login.
- If any one calls you and claims they are from a government department asking for information, you have no obligation to give it to them, you have every right to just hang up on them, you do not need to explain yourself, or have any obligation to talk to anyone, so hang up.
- Lastly, if you believe you have been a victim of any of these crimes, don’t turn your computer on, call your bank first to tell them what has happened, then call you local technician to come and clean out your computer from any malicious software they may have installed. Then go onto http://www.acorn.gov.au/ and report it.
Above all don’t be fearful of going online, as it is a wonderful place where you can find a wealth of information, but be sure that you can spot a potential scam. These rules should help you keep safe.