Cornwall Trading Standards warn of computer 'fix' scam
2:00pm Monday 28th January 2013 in News
Trading Standards are reminding people not to fall for a telephone scam where rogue traders scare people into believing their computers are infected by a virus.
The callers, posing as help desk staff from an IT company, appear to be randomly telephoning people and misleading them into believing their computer is infected by a virus and needs immediate attention. Several local residents have been persuaded to part with fairly large sums of money for the company to ‘fix’ the problem.
“These calls appear to be part of a global scam and are in actual fact being made by organised criminal gangs”, explained Nigel Strick from Cornwall’s trading standards service. “Victims are being left out of pocket and their computers seriously compromised.”
The scammers call people and say they have been informed of a serious problem with the computer by the consumer’s internet service provider, which they offer to fix by being given remote access to the computer. Once the fraudster has gained remote access to the computer, they will show the consumer a file which will give the false impression of serious problems with the computer.
The consumer is then held to ransom as the fraudster offers to ‘install’ various ‘fixes’ for the problem and will charge a fee which can vary from £85 to £250. By this point the fraudster has changed the access password to the computer and the consumer cannot regain control of it without paying the fraudster for the ‘fix’.
Trading Standards urges everyone to be alert to this sort of trader.
Nigel continued “Rather worryingly, what people don’t realise is that as soon as they give permission to allow this company access to their computer, the fraudsters will have access to all the information stored on the hard drive including bank details, passwords, holiday bookings and all other personal information. In the worse case scenario, such information could be used to extract money from bank accounts or passed on to burglars.
“Generally, it is a very bad idea to get work done or to purchase goods as a result of an unexpected telephone call as you have no idea who you are dealing with. These traders can be impossible to track down if something goes wrong and invariably they charge way over the odds for work that is often completely unnecessary.”
Trading Standards advises anyone who has concerns about their computer to contact a legitimate trader who advertises locally.