Sunday, 14 April 2013

Nearly Scammed! Internet fraud

I have worked online for the past 11 years so am a bit of a veteran really but even I was nearly scammed by a very persuasive and clever company this weekend. This has actually been written about in the papers but I must have missed it so I am writing this up to spread the word so no-one else gets caught.

Saturday morning my home phone goes off and there is a pleasant male Indian voice on the other end of the line telling me that he is calling me on behalf of a company employed by Microsoft. Immediately I think 'oh no cold call get rid quick....' so I gave him the usual, 'sorry but I don't respond to cold calls and I'm really busy'. He immediately and very politely (calling me madam) said that Microsoft in the US had been receiving thousands of error reports from my computer and that it was due to a new Trojan virus which does not show up in any firewall or antivirus programme alerts. I happened to be sitting at my computer (luckily with the internet connection not working as we keep being knocked off the system) and without even thinking found myself at his behest going into my 'run' box and searching for eventwr.msc which showed me 29,000 error reports and danger reports. Every piece of my 'being' told me that I was about the be scammed, but he was very very persuasive as to how dangerous the bug was and how we could fix it there and then, and I almost ended up letting him take control of my computer remotely.

WHAT WAS I THINKING! As I said my internet connection was down so I couldn't connect and explained that we weren't going to get anywhere and thanked him for the alert and that I would look into it later. It was then he got very heavy about how important it was that we sorted the problem and how he could help and would call back. I got rid of him eventually and slightly shaken realised that I had probably nearly handed over every piece of secure information ever typed into my computer.

That afternoon at 3pm the phone went again with the same guy. But this time he got my husband who was waiting for him. He was firm and polite, but ended up threatening to call the police - this is how persistent this particular organisation are. Even when we asked for their phone number to check them out they gave us our own phone number with the last digit changed!

I realise this all sounds completely mad in the cold light of the next day - and reading it myself I cannot quite believe that I was so stupid to have even got as far as checking out my computer with him. But I did and can imagine how the many thousands that have been caught out have done so.

So remember the likes of Microsoft don't have your home phone number (oh how stupid am I) and they don't work with third party companies. End of. Please don't get caught, had he taken control of my computer he would have loaded up a virus which would have accessed everything and robbed me blind.

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