Warning on phone ‘virus’ conmen

TRADING standards watchdogs are urging people to be vigilant if they receive unsolicited telephone calls from a company claiming to be able to fix a virus on their computer.

The warning comes after a number of complaints from Hartlepool residents who have been contacted by a man claiming to be calling on behalf of Microsoft.

The caller says there is a virus on the person’s computer and asks them to log onto the computer so that he can guide them through the procedure to fix it.

Unfortunately, after performing some simple procedures, the caller can gain remote access to the computer, which could lead to fraudulent activity including identity theft.

Neil Harrison, the council’s senior trading standards officer, said: “We are very concerned about this scam – we have received numerous complaints about it and there has also been a large number of incidents reported around the country.

“People who have been targeted say that the caller has, not surprisingly, been reluctant to reveal the name of the company he is working for, although he tries to give the impression that he is calling on behalf of Microsoft.

“This is definitely not the case – Microsoft will not call you unless you have asked them to.

“Once somebody has access to your computer there is a serious risk of them stealing your personal information or bank details. They could also transfer a real virus to your computer.

“Fortunately, all the people who complained to us had become suspicious and ended the call. If you receive a similar approach, do not co-operate in any way – just hang up.”

If you have received any suspicious calls, contact Consumer Direct on 08454 040506.