FRAUD ALERT: Computer access scam via telephone

There have been recent reports of a computer scam via telephone that we’ve warned about in the past. A caller purporting to work for Microsoft, PC Law or another software company inquires about the proper functioning of your computer and your personal account information. They offer to repair your computer or update your information using an internet-based software installation or by accessing your computer remotely after you’ve provided your passwords. They request credit card information at that point as payment for the software or repair service charges, typically ranging from $35 to $470 per call.

As of March 2013, between 70 and 80 per cent of frauds reported daily to the Canadian Anti Fraud Centre (CAFC) concern phone calls claiming to be able to protect your computer from viruses. The RCMP and the CAFC advise that if you receive one of these scam attempts, simply hang up the phone. Never provide an unsolicited third party with your computer passwords, credit card numbers or any personal information whatsoever, nor allow an unsolicited third party to download software or remotely access your computer.

Harmful software can be installed to capture personal financial data such as online banking usernames and passwords and bank account information. This information can be used to empty your bank accounts and charge your credit cards. Your computer can then be accessed at any time by the perpetrators without your knowledge or participation to send spam, spread viruses to your contacts or overload computer networks. Once the criminals have your credit card information, it can be used to make purchases without your consent.

Overall, if you receive an unsolicited phone call or email offering to provide a service for a fee, it is likely a scam. Protect yourself by hanging up or deleting the email – these criminals are trying to steal your money and other valuable personal information.

As always, trust your instincts – and when in doubt, contact Cynthia Nield, LIANS’ Database and Information Officer, at cnield@lians.ca or 902 423 1300 x346 to help you debunk any emails or potential “clients”.

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