Fake Microsoft Engineers strike in Suffolk

Suffolk Trading Standards is warning residents to be extra vigilant following telephone calls from people falsely claiming to be Microsoft computer security engineers.

The cold callers are telling residents they are at risk of a computer security threat and go on to offer free security checks. If this proves to be successful, the victims help the fraudsters gain remote access to their computers. This gives them access to personal information held on the computer, including account log-in information and bank details, which can be used to commit fraud.

The scammers add authenticity by claiming to represent legitimate companies and use telephone directories to refer to their victims by name. Victims can also end up being asked to pay for the ‘fixes’ the fraudster has made to their computer.

Trading Standards is offering the following advice to consumers:

Be suspicious of unsolicited calls related to a security problem, even if they claim to represent a respected company
Never provide personal information, such as credit card or bank details, to an unsolicited caller
Do not go to a website, type anything into a computer, install software or follow any other instruction from someone who calls out of the blue
Take the caller’s information down and pass it to the authorities
Use up-to-date versions of your operating and application software
Make sure security updates are installed regularly
Use a strong password and change it regularly
Make sure the firewall is turned on and that antivirus software is installed and up to date

Microsoft is advising anyone who thinks they may already have been a victim of a phone scam to do the following:

Change their computer’s password, change the password on their main email account and change the password for any financial accounts, especially bank and credit cards
Scan their computer with the Microsoft Safety Scanner to find out if they have ‘malware’ installed on their computer
Contact their bank and credit card companies

Councillor Colin Spence, Suffolk County Council’s Portfolio Holder for Public Protection said; “These scammers are undoubtedly taking advantage of the fact that many of us are trusting, avoid confrontation and don’t like to admit if we are confused by technical details. It is important to remain extremely vigilant if you answer your phone to a cold caller, particularly if they tell you that they represent a large reputable company like Microsoft or a government agency.

“It is vital not to pass on any personal details, and to jot down as much information as possible from the person at the other end of the phone. By reporting these fraudsters, you are helping to stop them claim any more victims.”

To help reduce the number of unsolicited calls, consumers can register for the Telephone Preference Service on 0845 070 0707.  For further information or to report a call, residents can contact Consumer Direct 08454 04 05 06 or Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.

 

 

By Becky Whiting on January 6th, 2012