Scammers target computer owners in cold calls

SCAMMERS are targeting unsuspecting Gloucester residents through cold calls.

Steve Williams from Avon River Computer Service said he had been receiving an alarming number of calls from locals who had been scammed by cold callers saying their computers had been compromised.

The scammers claim to be calling from Microsoft, Telstra or some other large company and tell customers their computer is either riddled with viruses, their system files are corrupt or that their computer is vulnerable to attack from hackers. 

The scammers then tell the person to go to the management console on their computer and look to see if there are any red crosses or warning messages there. 

“The event viewer logs they tell a person to look at will often have errors and warnings displayed, even in a brand new system,” Mr Williams said.

“These are mostly unimportant, but simply justify the lies the scammers are telling you.

“It doesn’t make any difference what you tell them that you see in the logs, they will say that this is due to infection, corruption or hackers accessing your computer and that they can fix things for you. 

“Somewhere in the conversation, you will be asked to pay a fee. This fee may be just a few dollars or it may be up to $400.”

Mr Williams said it was not unusual for scammers to ask for bank account details.

“One of my clients was quoted an amount, which she paid, thinking that she was dealing with a reputable company,” he said.

“Later in the conversation the scammers said they were able to offer a discount and required her bank details so they could deposit the discount money back into her account.

“Needless to say, no money came back to her account and they cleaned out any money that was there.”

Scammers will also often ask for access to a person’s computer.

“They will normally ask you to download a program like TeamViewer or some other remote desktop software,” Mr Williams said. 

“This will give them access to your computer as if they were sitting in front of it. Don’t do it. Remember, this whole thing is a scam.

“Giving them access to your computer could allow them to steal your information, install keystroke monitors to steal usernames or passwords or allow them to load viruses onto your computer to justify additional calls and payments.”

Mr Williams said there was only one sure fire way to get rid of scammers.

“Microsoft, Telstra and other legitimate companies will never ring unprompted and tell you that your computer is infected or corrupted,” he said. 

“If you get a call from one of these people, the best advice is simply tell them that you don’t have a computer - it’s the only response they don’t have an answer for - then hang up.”