The stranger calling (Rule #1 Recognise it´s real)
Imagine you're sitting in your living room drinking a cup of your favourite tea, and suddenly, your phone rings.
You pick up. On the other end is a nice person you've never talked to before, and you were also not expecting their call. However, now you're talking
The person on the phone tells you they are calling from a well-known technology brand followed by a scary story about your laptop being infected by a malicious virus ☠
`How do they know that´, you may ask. `Well - somehow, their alarm system informed them about your computer being infected, and they thought they better call you´ or another bogus explanation.
From all they told you so far, it looks like a rather dangerous situation for all your files and even your laptop, right?
What happens next?
While you might think that all of this sounds way too made up, I assure you: It is not.
Unfortunately, this type of cybercrime is not uncommon, and it happens in hundreds of homes each day in exactly this way or with a slightly different story told. Action Fraud, the UK's national fraud reporting centre, received in excess of 20,000 reports in 2021 about this kind of Cyber-Enabled crime and the losses amounted to a staggering £57 Million in 2021 in the UK alone.
I want you to know this: You can be close to 100% sure that the person calling is nothing but a scammer.
And whatever company name they told you they are calling from: It's not true. Neither is any of their alarming story about your laptop true.
This sounds harsh, I know, and it is getting even worse: Independently of how nice, caring, and competent the person sounds to you, do not trust them at all.
If you are still on the phone with them now hang up, do not believe anything they are saying. It is also important you do not make any phone calls on that line you received the call for 5 minutes, this is because the scammer could still be listening in on your next call.
Now you have hung up, and taken a minute to think about what that phone call was all about, I can tell you what they wanted: Your money - they wanted to rob you.
How would they have done it?
Scammers use multiple tactics to try to get you to part with your money but luckily you hung up before they could try their tricks on you.
The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau at The City Of London Police hear of multiple tactics being used, below are two examples. Be warned, both are scary, but I hope you read on to learn about their tactics and how to spot them in the future and avoid being a victim.
- They would ask you to install Remote Access software such as TeamViewer. Next, they would ask for the access details for the remote access tool which you end up giving to them after they tell you their convincing story. Now they have gained access to your computer, they show you where the “issue” is and fix it for you by removing the virus that does not even exist. Now they have “fixed” your computer they want you to pay a small amount for their service. You log into your bank account and transfer the money directly. What you might have missed is that the scammer is still connected to your device and sees you logging in to your bank account and how much you have saved there, they also see your bank account details and internet banking log on details so they are able to transfer all of your money from your bank account to theirs.
- Another tactic the scammer uses would start similarly by requesting you download the Remote Access software so they can connect to your computer. Instead of claiming to help you fix your computer, they lock your screen and black it out while being connected*. Now they blackmail you into sending them money. They threaten you in a very unpleasant way, and if you refuse to pay them, they claim to delete all of your personal files or publish them on the internet.
I am deeply sorry if this scared you! But there is still good news: You can avoid this from happening.
If you ever find yourself in this scary situation, stop for a moment before allowing anybody access to your device or personal information. Challenge what you are being asked, could this be fake? It’s ok to reject, refuse or ignore requests. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you. Protect your money by contacting your bank immediately on a different device the scammer has contacted you on. If you think you have been victim of a scam, report it to your local police force.
My advice for you: Only install software or grant remote access to your computer if you’re asked by someone you know and trust, such as a friend or family member, and never as a result of an unsolicited call, browser pop up, or text message.
Hang up early, stay safe and enjoy your cup of tea!
*If this happens to you, press
Ctrl + Alt + Del and this will allow you to regain access to your screen immediately. Also, close the connection – if in doubt how to do it: Simply shut down your laptop. This will end the connection.
Former Community Manager