Saanich Police and Telus have issued warnings about scam artists calling people in Greater Victoria and tricking them into installing malicious software on their home computers.
Fraud artists often say they are from Microsoft or in some cases Telus and claim they have detected viruses and other weaknesses in a person’s computer.
People are directed to specific websites for a “fix,” which typically uploads virus that seeks personal and financial information, and records keystrokes.
A 53-year-old woman from Langford, who requested anonymity, said she has received one to two phone calls per week from people purporting to be Microsoft Windows computer technicians. All had South Asian accents and some admitted they were calling from India, although their numbers displayed California and Colorado area codes.
“They tried to get me to type things into the computer,” she said “I may be old but I’m not stupid.”
All claimed she had problems with her computer “running slow” or having viruses. She told a few that she didn’t own a computer and they promptly hung up.
“It’s a nuisance and a scam, and people should know, especially older people. It bothers me. There are a lot of scams out there.”
Saanich police Sgt. Dean Jantzen said victims often agree to pay the caller via PayPal to fix viruses and then allow “security software” to be uploaded onto their machine from the Internet.
Telus said in a release it is getting reports from customers that scammers were requesting payment via credit card, compromising both the card and the computer.
“Offering someone you don’t know remote access to your computer over the Internet is like giving them the keys to your house,” Jantzen said. “Once access is gained, a virus or software can be placed on your computer to monitor what your doing or access your banking information.”
Telus says that legitimate companies would already have, and should not need to verify, name or account details. If unsure, hang up and contact the company directly.