New Zealanders are the target of a new scam involving fake viruses and people posing as Microsoft.
According to Microsoft New Zealand and NetSafe, there has been a significant increase in reports of scammers trying to defraud people by claiming to be calling from Microsoft and that there is a problem with their computers.
The cold callers offer to fix compromised computers and ask for remote access to computers which can reveal credit card details or bank account numbers. Some people have allowed access and one is reported to have lost around $5,000.
Martin Cocker, NetSafe executive director, says this pattern of scamming is not new and the scammers use the Microsoft brand as the company is known to have trusted experts.
“Unfortunately some people believe the calls are genuine and are led to believe they are doing the right thing by handing over private passwords or details.
“They can find themselves losing money or ending up with a computer infected with viruses or other malware that compromise their security,” says Cocker.
Frazer Scott, Microsoft NZ marketing and operations director, says the big message they want to get out to New Zealanders is that the company will NEVER call them asking for remote access to their computer.
“We do not call customers at home saying that we have detected a problem with their computer. We will never ask for passwords or other private details in any forum,” says Scott.
Cocker says their advice is to hang up immediately and report the incident to NetSafe.
“If you have given someone on the phone access and start to worry, then disconnect the machine from the internet and then hang up and report the incident to us. If you have given any bank details to a caller, then advise your bank as soon as possible,” he says.
Microsoft and NetSafe will be running advertisements across the country and writing to community groups to alert as many people as possible to be wary of these calls.
The average scam call plays out as follows:
How to deal with the overseas cold callers, according to Microsoft NZ: