Microsoft New Zealand and Netsafe are today renewing their call for New Zealand internet users to be aware of a fresh wave of scammers who are targeting this country with warnings about fake viruses on their computers.
The call for vigilance comes as Microsoft and Netsafe have both received a notable increase in reports of scammers trying to defraud people by phone or by using ‘pop up’ messages on screens. The scammers are claiming to be representatives of Microsoft and telling users that they have identified a problem with their device.
The scammers then offer to fix the ‘compromised’ device and ask for remote access which can reveal passwords, credit card details, bank account numbers and other information. They may also explicitly ask for payment so that protection software – which is in fact malicious – can be installed.
Netsafe says that some people have allowed access to their computers in these ways and have consequently lost money upwards of $400.
Chief Executive for Netsafe, Martin Cocker, says this pattern of phone scamming is not new and variations of it have been circulating for several years.
“The scammers claim to represent the Microsoft brand because the company is well known to have trusted experts, and so the calls may sound genuine,” says Cocker.
“People are led to believe they are doing the right thing by handing over private passwords or details, but are soon fraudulently charged money, have their identity stolen, find their computer has been infected with viruses or other malware that seriously compromises their security.”
Microsoft NZ’s Marketing and Operations Director Frazer Scott says the key message Microsoft wants to make clear once again to New Zealand internet users is that the company will never call them asking for remote access to their computer.
“Microsoft DOES NOT call customers at home saying that we have detected a problem with their computer, and we will NEVER ask for passwords or other private details in any forum,” says Scott.
Cocker says their advice to people who receive suspect calls is to hang up immediately.
“If you have given someone remote access to your device you should immediately end the session and contact Netsafe. If you have given any bank details to a caller, then contact your bank as soon as possible to advise them of the possible fraud.”
Microsoft and Netsafe say that the recent fresh wave of reports about these scams is a timely reminder for people to be vigilant, and refer users to the following advice in the event they are called by a scammer.