Telemarketing scam: your computer has a virus!
Don’t let a scammer scare you into believing your computer is infected with a virus or is sending them error messages. Even if the caller claims to be a representative from Microsoft or another genuine service provider, you should be very wary of anyone who calls you out of the blue and tries to trick you into letting them gain remote access to your computer.
SCAMwatch has heard several variations of this scam, but generally the caller will claim they suspect your computer is infected and that they need remote access to check. If you allow them access, they will then pretend to run a scan and report that your computer is infected. The caller will then try to convince you to purchase anti-virus software straight away to remove the infection. The fee may be a one-off payment or an ongoing subscription.
There are many potential dangers. As well as losing money to the scammer by paying for a service that provides you no benefits, your personal and banking details are also at risk. If you give a scammer remote access to your computer, they can cause all sorts of mischief – including infecting your computer and acquiring your personal information.
If you receive a call like this, just hang up.
- If you receive a phone call out of the blue from someone about your computer system’s security status, hang up.
- NEVER give a stranger remote access to your computer.
- Do not give out your personal, credit card or online account details over the phone unless you made the call and the phone number came from a trusted source.
- Make sure your computer is protected with anti-virus and anti-spyware software, and a good firewall - but only purchase the software from a source that you know and trust.
- If you think you have provided your account details to a scammer, contact your bank or financial institution immediately.
You can report a scam to the ACCC via the report a scam page on SCAMwatch or by calling 1300 795 995.
You can read what Microsoft has to say on GovTech, Microsoft Australia’s Government Affairs blog. The Queensland Police Service has also issued a media release about a scam targeting computer users. [link no longer available]
The ACCC and the Australian Communications and Media Authority have issued a joint media release on phone scams.