SEVERAL West Aussies are out of pocket by hundreds of dollars after they were targeted by over-the-phone scammers posing as Microsoft computer technicians.
Consumer Protection said it had received more than 155 enquiries in the last three months about the Microsoft scam, where scammers can remotely access the victim’s computer after given access.
Commissioner for Consumer Protection Anne Driscoll said the victims are putting themselves at risk of identity theft and it was time to issue a fresh warning.
“Despite previous warnings by consumer protection agencies and Microsoft themselves, people in WA are still falling victim to this scam,” she said.
“You may be asked to log onto a website which allows the cold-caller to gain remote access to your computer. Or you could be encouraged to supply information like the IP address and then see the cursor begin to move when you’re not touching your mouse or keyboard.
“We have also heard of a random pop-up which falsely claims to offer a Microsoft system upgrade and then installs unwanted software.”
Ms Driscoll said the scam involves phishing and potential extortion.
“The scammer can alter security or anti-virus software settings, or add a key-stroke recorder to the PC. This means that when you enter personal or secure details, during online banking or internet trading for example, those details can be used fraudulently.
“Some consumers have been asked to pay between $125 and $220 by credit card, for a system upgrade available for free online. Those who refuse may have their passwords changed or be locked out of their computers. There’s also a risk of unwanted software being installed and scammers asking for payment to remove it.
WA ScamNet advises:
- Never let unknown third parties access your computer.
- Regularly scan PCs with an up to date virus detection program.
- Do not be fooled by legitimate sounding organisation names like “Windows Security” or “Windows Service Centre”.
If you have let a potential scammer access your computer you should consider having it inspected by a reputable technician to ensure it can no longer be logged onto remotely and is free from malicious software.
If you’ve paid money to these scammers via credit card seek a charge back from your financial institution.