Beware scammers from all directions! Criminal elements will try and trick you into handing over your money by telephone, email, post and via the web. Remember the following tips to avoid being caught out.
Unscrupulous scammers usually call you up claiming to be from Microsoft or your telephone provider. Microsoft will NEVER call you about your computer, and your telephone provider won’t call you to give you technical support you have never asked for. A good way to deal with anyone who calls you to tell you something is wrong is to tell them that you haven’t got a computer! If you want to turn the tables on these pests, say that you will call them back, get their phone number and report it to Trading Standards. In a recent survey by Which?, the Consumer Association magazine, three quarters of respondents said that they had not been caught out by scam callers, but almost a tenth said that they had handed over money or may have allowed miscreants to access their computers.
Many viruses are transmitted in email attachments. We are all swamped with email and the rogues appear very plausible at first glance. Watch out for spelling mistakes, which are a frequent giveaway. The email sender can be easily disguised, or “spoofed” and legitimate companies that have been targeted for spoofing recently include Booking.com, UPS delivery services, Paypal, Airline companies and all the major banks. Some of the current batch of viruses are quite powerful, and can block access to your computer. In some cases cash demands are made for the computer to be “unlocked”. Do not pay these scammers or give them any of your credit/debit card details. If you struggle to remove these programs yourself seek help from an IT professional.
Small businesses often receive invoices for paid entries in non-existent trade directories. Make sure that your accounts department is on the lookout for these fake bills, which often originate from mainland Europe.
Advertisements on websites may lead you to an infected site or inadvertently download a virus straight to your computer. Recently the media company responsible for advertising on a major UK corporate website was tricked into publishing infected links, unaware of the mayhem caused. Beware of banner adverts that are trying to grab your attention by jiggling on the screen, or promise to speed up your computer or fix registry errors.
Look out for unauthorised QR stickers added to posters and shop signs!
Cartoons by Richard Smith http://www.richsmithillustration.com/