You may well remember my article last year warning of the scam whereby someone claiming to be from Microsoft or Windows technical support calls to tell you that your computer has been attacked by a virus and that they need to take control of it in order to remove the virus. In return, naturally, for a large fee. Of course, the caller is not from Microsoft and there is probably nothing wrong with your PC.
It would appear that since many people are now failing to fall for the “Microsoft Scam”, the scammers have put in place a twist on an old trick and are now purporting to call from ‘BT’s support team’ and have very believable answers when challenged.
They warn you that they have detected a virus which needs to be “fixed immediately” and then get you to download a piece of software onto your PC so that they can access it remotely to be able to remove the virus. In reality, what this software does is to give them access to your computer, therefore providing them with all your passwords and log-ins etc. Not only do they then access your bank accounts, they also make purchases using your credit or debit card details.
The alternative trick is to get you to pay the best part of £400 to remove the non-existent virus from your PC.
But the scammers are not stopping at phone calls. There is now an on-line scam in which fraudsters pose as legitimate internet service providers (ISPs) offering fake technical support. It works as follows: you are happily browsing the internet when a warning pop-up appears on your screen. This pop up is supposedly from your actual internet provider warning that “malware has been detected” and urges you to call a number "for immediate assistance”. When you call the number, you will be charged an excessive call fee and be asked to install software that compromises your computer.
It is scarily realistic because the scammers know which internet provider you are subscribed to. But how? Basically they place adverts which are infected with malware on perfectly legitimate websites. The user browses these websites and without even having to click on the advert, the malware in the advert redirects the user to a website in the background which checks their computer and finds their IP address. From the IP address it is easy to find out which ISP owns which IP address.
If you’re called by one of these scammers, whether they purport to be from BT, Microsoft or another company, NEVER let them remotely access your PC and NEVER hand over your bank details. It is simply not possible for a caller to know whether your PC is infected with viruses.
If you think you’ve been a victim, run a virus scan, alert your bank and contact Action Fraud to report the scam.