Teresa is advising constituents to be cautious of telephone calls from companies claiming to be offering services to both “fix” and safeguard their computers against viruses.
These calls are part of a scam whereby callers telephone computer users and claim to be offering technical support. These callers tell computer users that a fault has been identified with their PCs, and that they can help to remedy the problem if the computer user downloads a software programme that will give them remote access to the computer.
Once the caller has remote access to the computer they say they will install “fixes” and tell computer users that they must pay a subscription for the “preventative service” of approximately £200. However, these computers do not have problems from the outset, and the service is of no value. This appears to be part of a scam whereby the callers install software that either takes periodic payments from the computer users, or encrypts the files of the users. The computer users’ details are compromised, making them susceptible to further online scams.
This scam was previously the subject of an article published by the Guardian, which lists alleged perpetrators, including callers claiming to be from Windows PC Care.
“With everything moving online, it is not surprising that we are seeing an increase in e-crime. However, I would urge constituents to be vigilant against calls to their homes from companies claiming to offer technical support that has not been requested, and is not needed.
I have seen in my own constituency that these companies bully and exploit the vulnerable into handing over cash and compromising their online security, and I want to make sure as many people as possible across Erith & Thamesmead are equipped with the knowledge to safeguard themselves against these scams.
If constituents are contacted by, what they believe to be, is a scam company, they should not hesitate to question the caller on the company’s credentials. Very often the callers will hang-up as they will fear being exposed.
If constituents think they have been a victim of e-crime the best thing to do is not panic. They should immediately contact their banks to tell them not to allow any further payments to the company in question. The bank may not be able to retrieve the fee already paid, but they should be able to stop the transfer of any further monies. Constituents should also contact the police to report the crime although, given a lot of these companies operate off-shore, it can unfortunately be difficult to track them, and damage limitation must be prioritised.
Computer users should take their computers off-line and seek technical support from a professional, so that their computers can be thoroughly scanned for viruses, the data backed-up, and the Operating Systems re-installed. Any online user names and passwords should also be changed.”