Fair Trading Minister Stuart Ayres today said a computer virus scam well known to consumer protection authorities for many years was being run by criminals using sometimes less than sophisticated techniques and information.
The computer virus scam involves scam callers seeking payment to clear non-existent viruses from personal computers.
The caller will contact you out of the blue and may claim to be from a large computer company or legitimate technical service provider. They will request remote access to your computer to fix a non-existent problem.
If you say yes, they run a bogus scan and find a fake virus. They may also access your personal and banking details to steal your identity or raid your accounts.
One New South Wales consumer contacted her local radio station this week after being called by computer virus scammers.
The only problem for the scammers was that the consumer did not own a computer. She hung up on the scammers promptly which is exactly the recommended response.
Mr Ayres urged people to warn their family members, friends and neighbours to be scam smart and keep computer protection software up to date.
“For every consumer who is scam smart, there is someone likely to be taken in and who will lose their money, their identity and their confidence,” he said.
“When scammers have success they keep coming back and will continue to take money from vulnerable consumers. They also share information about victims across their criminal networks.
“It is a vicious cycle and victims suffer the humiliation of knowing they have been conned.
“Many are unwilling to report the scam to authorities and older people often don’t want to admit they have been scammed. It is embarrassing for them and they don’t want their children and other loved ones to know.”
Mr Ayres said the computer virus scam was just one in a repertoire of scams that target Australian residents each day.