Bottom lines are:
- If a company calls you, don’t let them take control of your computer
- If they have control of your computer and you suspect something isn’t right, don’t let them know, just unplug your router (which kills the Internet connection and their control of your PC).
Common scam techniques and the truth, these are some we have heard:
- Your computer is running slow and we can fix it. Maybe true, but who is this company and how do they know your computer is slow? Most computers get slow so this will be correct for many cold calls they would make.
- You computer has a virus and we can fix it. Same as above.
- Your computer is affecting your neighbours and we can fix it – it’ll crash their computers, phones, break the smart TVs etc. Unless your neighbours share your WiFi, this isn’t possible for nearly all domestic situations. Sure viruses can spread across a network and this should be a concern, but if this is a concern you’re probably more able to be aware of this sort of scam in the first place.
- You have illegal software on your computer. Even if you have pirate versions of software, the software company would have to work at NSA level to match a telephone to the computer running the software (unless you give it to them). Software is harder to pirate now than ever, so if you are running pirated copies you have really gone out of your way to do so – you are unlikely to have or will ever pay for it. The amount of effort a software company will have to go to in order to receive money of you…it’s very unlikely to be worth their time (pursuing businesses is a different matter). If you’re concerned you have pirate software take it to a local computer shop like ourselves who can probably tell you in an instant.
If you have been scammed:
- If you have paid money, tell your bank immediately. They have systems in place that should prevent further money being taken from your account and they may be able to get your money back.
- If you have allowed remote control of you machine, disconnect it from the internet. Check that no unexpected or unknown programs are in the background. Unfortunately it’s very hard to tell if the machine is completely clean without doing a complete wipe and reinstall of everything (and backup your files first).
- Installing a good firewall can show you all connections into and out of your computer – you can investigate each and block/remove any necessary.