22 January 2014

SCAMwatch has issued a new warning about “computer virus scams”, which it says are now also targeting mobile devices including phones and tablets.

Similar scams, also often described as “Microsoft imposter scams”, or “tech support scams” have targeted Australians for many years.

The scammer will typically contact you by phone claiming to be a computer expert and that your computer has a virus or needs fixing. They may claim to be from a reputable company. They will advise you that they can fix the problem if you grant them remote access to your computer or pay a fee.

In a new twist, SCAMwatch says scammers are now claiming to be able to fix viruses on people’s smartphones or tablets.

SCAMWatch has provided the following information:

As with previous versions, the scammer will ask you to grant them remote access to your computer, however they will also ask you to connect your mobile device to the computer so that they can access the device through it.

Do not let your guard drop because of a sense of urgency. These scammers are well versed at applying high pressure sales tactics to incite fear and anxiety that your device has been compromised and must be fixed immediately. In fact, the only way that you risk your device’s security is by providing access in the first place. If you hand over your money, your device will not receive the promised protection.

Ask yourself: why would a business call and offer to fix your computer unless you contacted them in the first place?

If you store personal information on your phone, tablet or computer, keep it out of the hands of scammers – never provide remote access to a stranger.

How the scam works

  • You receive a call out of the blue from someone claiming to be a technical support specialist, who informs you that your computer, smartphone or tablet has been compromised by malicious software.
  • The caller may claim to represent a reputable business such as Microsoft, Windows, Telstra or Bigpond. They may also sound like an expert as they use technical jargon.
  • The “technician” will ask you to provide them with remote access to your computer so that they can run a scan. If they claim the virus is on your smartphone or tablet, they will ask you to connect the device to your computer so that they can access the device through it.
  • If you provide them with access, they will claim that the scan has indeed detected a virus, and any information stored on the device has been compromised.
  • The “technician” will then claim that they can restore your computer’s security on the spot, for a fee. They may offer to install antivirus software on to your device for a one-off payment that typically ranges from $100 to $300.
  • If you hesitate to agree, the caller will be very persistent and try to evoke a sense of urgency by claiming that anything could happen to your device if you do not fix it now.
  • To pay, they will ask for your credit card or banking details, or to transfer them money.
  • If you provide remote access to the caller, only then are you compromising your device and personal information. If you hand over your money, your device will never receive the promised security software.

Protect yourself

  • If you receive a phone call from someone claiming there is something wrong with your computer or mobile device’s security, just hang up.
  • Never give a stranger remote access to your mobile device or computer.
  • Do not give out your personal, credit card or online account details over the phone unless you initiated the call and the phone number came from a trusted source.
  • Make sure your computer is protected by security software, but only purchase the software from a source that you know and trust.
  • If you think your mobile device or computer’s security has been compromised, seek out help or advice from a qualified and reputable technician.
  • If you think you have provided your account details to a scammer, contact your bank or financial institution immediately.

Report

You can report scams to the ACCC via the report a scam page on SCAMwatch or by calling 1300 795 995.

More information

You can read the original post from SCAMwatch on its website.

Stay Smart Online has previously issued information about phone based scams.

Information provided by SCAMwatch.

The information provided here is of a general nature. Everyone's circumstances are different. If you require specific advice you should contact your local technical support provider.

Feedback

Thank you to those subscribers who have provided feedback to our Alerts and Newsletters. We are very interested in your feedback and where possible take on board your suggestions or requests.

Disclaimer

This information has been prepared by Enex TestLab for the Department of Communications ('the Department'). It was accurate and up to date at the time of publishing.

This information is general information only and is intended for use by private individuals and small to medium sized businesses. If you are concerned about a specific cyber security issue you should seek professional advice.

The Commonwealth, Enex TestLab, and all other persons associated with this advisory accept no liability for any damage, loss or expense incurred as a result of the provision of this information, whether by way of negligence or otherwise.

Nothing in this information (including the listing of a person or organisation or links to other web sites) should be taken as an endorsement of a particular product or service.

Please note that third party views or recommendations included in this information do not reflect the views of the Commonwealth, or indicate its commitment to a particular course of action. The Commonwealth also cannot verify the accuracy of any third party material included in this information.

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