Category Archives: Scams and try-ons

Scammers are still succeeding

Nearly a million people fell prey to scammers over the summer according to OfCom research. 45 million people were targetted by emails, phone calls or texts between June and September.

So we still need to be on our guard. One new service is the 159 number. Calling this from a different phone will get you through to the customer services department of your bank (nearly all major ones are signed up). So if you get a call from your bank, the police, HMRC or any financial matter call 159 to check it out.

Scammers use the ‘lock my PC’ program

We all get calls and emails from ‘Microsoft’, ‘Google’, ‘BT’ and others claiming that our computer has a virus. Yeah, right.

Some even go to the extent that they lock your computer. If a window says ‘This computer has been locked. To unlock computer you must enter the correct password.’ then they are using Lock My PC by FSPro Labs. Its is properly used to help users to lock various functions of their computer if they have particular needs.

However, the bad guys have learnt about it and are using it. FSLabs Pro, being good guys, have created an ‘antidote’. Where the window asks for a password, enter 999901111 but do not press enter or click anything. You will see a recovery code underneath into the recovery page on the internet. This will give you a password that you put into the window on your computer to unlock it.

The scammers are still there – please read this

I know that I’ve written several times about scammers, but they are still there and getting better – and catching people from all and every walk of life.

To be clear: Microsoft, your internet provider or anyone else does not know the status of your computer. Frankly, I doubt if they care about your computer. I don’t see why they should and anyway, if they did then they would fix it for free and not ask for money like the scammers do.

Scam number one works by ringing lots of people and eventually they will chance on someone who thinks they have a problem. So the scammer gets believed.

Then they will ask you to run something like Team Viewer to get onto your computer. This lets them show you all the problems on your computer by showing you Event Viewer to convince you to pay them money and thus get your bank details. Alternatively while they are doing this they will be looking at your web browser to try and find your passwords.

  • Never, ever, let anyone connect to your computer unless you absolutely trust them (Takes a small bow!).
  • If they start talking about money put the phone down straight away. They will ring back to try to pretend to be genuine. They’re not.
  • If you see your mouse or anything else suggesting that your computer has a will of its own, just shut it down by pressing the power button until the lights go out – about four or five seconds.

Then get expert assistance.

Scam number two is an automated call telling you that something major will happen (like your internet being cut off or failing to get a refund) unless you press button ‘1’ on your phone. This puts you through to a person who will try to extract your bank details and enough information about you to pretend to be you.

  • Again, just put the phone down.

Scam number three pretends to be your bank, Amazon or someone. They will be trying to get your credentials, maybe asking you for security details.

  • Just say ‘thank you’ and put the phone down. If they are genuine they won’t mind. Then visit the website of the organisation they claim to be from just to make sure – or call them on the number on a statement or card from them. Don’t use any number or website the caller gives you.

In all cases, if you have given out any bank or card details:

  • call the card issuer or bank immediately and tell them;
  • Change your online banking logons and passwords;
  • Sign up to a free credit checking service and monitor that for a while in case the scammers try anything;
  • Change any other passwords on any websites that are important to you or access your money like Amazon and PayPal.

It’s a great shame that the world is like this but that’s the way it is. Treat any phone call as a potential scam.

Block unwanted phone callers

I keep being besieged by scam and spam calls. So what can I do?

On my landline I could implement call screening where anyone ringing my number has their call intercepted and they are asked for their name. But that seems a bit brutal for a business as it would probably put off new customers.

So a bit of a difficulty, maybe. But you can block specific numbers on your line without needing a fancy telephone.

Talk Talk and Sky customers can block the last caller by dialling 14258 and pressing ** to confirm that they want the last number that called to be blocked. Pressing 1 next reports it as a scam call

BT has a similar system on 1572.

In all cases you can manage the blocked numbers in case you want to unblock one.

On my Android mobile, I open the phone app and either select the call and ‘block number’ or click the three dots at the top right the settings and call blocking to add numbers directly.

Iphone users need to go to the phone app, then the recents tab. Tap the ‘i’ symbol by the unwanted number and ‘Block this caller’

Scam emails about Office 365

New emails are being sent out asking you to renew your Office 365 subscription. It comes from MSOffice with the email

If you click on ‘renew now’ it takes you to, that sort of looks like a Microsoft site. When your login doesn’t work, then you can use live chat, but this is for the scammers to get your user name and password.

Always login to your account directly rather than clicking a link. Or use Libreoffice instead – it’s free, did I mention that?

‘OfCOM’ payment scam

Yet more people trying to get bank details. They never tire!

They will phone you and tell you to pay an outstanding amount for your broadband or phone service. If you don’t give them your bank details, then you will be disconnected.

Alternatively, an automated message will say the same and to press ‘1’ or a similar number to resolve the issue. This just connects you to a premium rate number while they get your financial information.

OfCom doesn’t collect money for phone companies, so the real Ofcom isn’t going to ring you up.

Or finally you might be rung on your mobile by a number that hangs up immediately. When you ring back to see who it is, it’s a premium rate line that you are calling.

Be aware of payment fraud

43,875 people reported a serious scam last year that cost them £236 million. With little hope of getting it back. The simple scheme is to hack emails or intercept post so they know what bills you expect to receive soon. Then they email you a bill with their bank details, which people pay as they are expecting the bill. The name of the payee is correct but the bank account is wrong and banks don’t check the name on the account matches the payee.

As ever, if you are unsure, check with the people who sent the bill (and not by replying to the email!) that the amount is due and their payment details.

Automated scam calls

The latest attempt to get us to reveal personal information is an automated call that claims to be from one of your service providers.
It will say something like your broadband is about to be terminated. Press 1 to reconnect.’
If you do press 1 then you will be connected with an ‘expert’ who can help you. What they are expert at is getting your personal information such as name, date of birth, address and bank details.
Just put the phone down

New banking scams

These seem to be getting to a new level, involving identity theft before the bad guys ring up to tell you there is a problem with your computer. Remember when they ring, they can’t know there is a problem with your computer and if the problem is with the line they don’t need to get into your computer. Even if you put the phone down, they may well ring back – this does not mean they are genuine.

However, they are now doing much more with trawling social media to get to know more about you so that they can fool websites and call centres. The common security questions are things like date of birth, address, mother’s maiden name, first pet….. – all the sorts of things people put on social media or tell friends. How to get the information was illustrated very well in Coronation Street on 20 December last year (The 1930 episode gets the info 13:07 in and the 2030 shows the aftermath)

This means they can go down the route of pretending to be you forgetting your password.

When it comes to setting up your answers to security questions, the bank or whatever doesn’t care whether the answer is true or not – just that you give the answer they are expecting. So make up the responses you set up. This gives you another barrier against people using your identity.