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New computer scam that preys on your fears

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The over 50s are being targeted with a new computer virus scam to swindle you out of your hard-earned cash....


Last month, we wrote about a scary new banking scam that was causing thousands of computers across the UK to become infected with a special virus allowing criminals to gain control of the computer and access personal information.

The Zeus 2 botnet – as it’s called – is a Trojan which sits in your computer system. It then tracks login information to banks, credit and debit card numbers, browser cookies, account types plus balances, bank statements, and login information for email accounts and social networks – to name a few.

With an increasing number of us using online banking facilities, this is pretty worrying stuff - especially when the number of infected machines worldwide runs into the millions.

However, it doesn’t end there. Now a new computer virus scam has come onto the scene which is generally targeting the over 50s.

How it works

Imagine you receive a phone call from a fraudster in India. You answer the phone and the caller claims to be a representative from Microsoft or uses a fictitious company name such as ‘Click 2’. You’re then directed to a legitimate looking website which is supposedly the company website.

The caller informs you that you may have a number of viruses on your computer as many other computers in your area have been infected and he’s investigating the problem.

The caller then requests remote access to your computer. As a result, the caller now has full control of your computer and will also be able to access personal details, leaving you vulnerable to ID theft.

You’re then informed that you do indeed have a host of viruses on your computer - specifically something called a Crypt 32 error.

Don’t be scammed! Emma Roberts reveals some dangerous scams that are circulating the web

This is actually an error with Microsoft attempting to update a security certificate. It’s not a virus and doesn’t pose any threat to users. It’s simply a bug that Microsoft needs to fix.

However, at the time of the call, you may not realise this and instead, you'll be made to think it's something to be worried about - particularly as a file will be opened, and on your screen you’ll see error messages and warning triangles which you may believe to be viruses.

The caller tells you he will ‘kindly’ fix this for you, providing you pay a fee. Due to your concern, you agree to this and hand over your credit card details or set up a direct debit for a one-off payment.

But once you’ve done this, you’re likely to find that the company has soon closed down and you’ve lost your money to a scammer. The amount of money the scammer will take can vary from person to person.

Protect yourself

Of course, you may think you’re savvy enough to never fall for a scam like this. But it won’t hurt to run over some quick tips to keep yourself safe online and make sure it doesn't happen to you.

Firstly, always be wary of any unsolicited phone calls or any emails you receive like this. If you’re suspicious of the call, hang up, and if you’ve received an email, don’t click on any links and delete it immediately. Make sure you don’t hand over any personal details or bank and credit card details.

If you see any error message on your screen telling you there’s a virus on your computer, don’t click on the message. Usually this will take you to a website to try and get you to buy anti-virus software and this is often a scam.

Instead, make sure you buy your own anti-virus software. There are a wide range of anti-virus packages out there, but most anti-virus software companies sell a standalone package that scans for viruses as well as security suite packages that include other protective software. You can read more about this here.

Make sure you update this software regularly. New viruses are created every day so this is really important.

Related blog post

It’s also a good idea to install anti-spyware protection. Spyware lurks inside your computer and collects information about you and your internet usage. You can find a list of anti-spyware programs here.

If you’re worried about any information you’ve received or about viruses on your computer, you should take your computer to an expert – perhaps at your local computer shop, for example.

You can find out more in 12 tips to keep you safe online.

Be aware

It’s also a good idea to be as aware of the latest online scams as possible to avoid becoming a victim. And one of the easiest ways to do this is to keep reading lovemoney.com as we regularly update our readers on the latest scams!

For example, o?ne of the most recent scams we've written about is tab napping which targets internet users who open a lot of tabs on their browser at the same time.

In a nutshell, if you’ve left one of these tabs unattended for a while, the scammers will replace it with a fake page that looks exactly the same as the original page – in an effort to obtain your personal data. So if an account you’ve been using (perhaps your bank account) has logged out, you’ll be asked to login again – and as a result, fraudsters will have access to all your security details.

To avoid being caught out by this, always check the URL in the browser address page is correct before you enter any personal details. And make sure the URL has a secure https:// address  - the ‘s’ stands for ‘secure’. It’s also a good idea to avoid leaving tabs open – particularly ones that require you to enter your login details.

You’ll find the full story about this scam in The new scam that secretly steals your bank details.???

If you have an opinion on this topic, why not start a discussion in our scams and swindles group about it?

More: Five scams we all fall for | Scammers who invade your home

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