An elderly Alexandra couple has been targeted by an overseas-based scam in which a caller claimed to be from Microsoft to gain access to their computer. The caller also got a payment of several hundred dollars from the couple.
“Unfortunately, this is an ongoing scam where people are randomly targeted by callers pretending to be a computer technician. The calls originate from overseas and it is difficult for police to take action,” Police Central Otago response manager Senior Sergeant Ian Kerrisk said
“Genuine computer companies will not randomly call people about their computers, and will never ask for account or credit card details over the phone.
“The advice from police is to simply hang up on these callers. If they keep calling back contact your telephone provider and they can look at taking action to then block further calls.”
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 tell 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 upwards of $400.
Microsoft NZ marketing and operations director Frazer Scott said Microsoft would never call internet users 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,” he said.