A Langley woman recently tangled with a fake computer technical support scam that has circled the globe.
First, a caller claiming to be working for Microsoft convinced her to allow remote access to her computer so he could fix some problems on her machine.
Then she had a change of heart and disconnected.
She even had her hard drive reformatted as a precaution.
Three months later, another caller made the same claim and sought the same access.
This time, she called the police.
The Langley RCMP have now issued a public warning about such calls, describing them as “completely fraudulent.”
Usually, the goal is to scare a computer owner by claiming their machine is infected with so-called “malware” and could crash if they don’t give the caller remote control of the computer to fix the problems.
In fact, the computer may indeed be infected, by the person supposedly working to fix the machine.
An unscrupulous technician can use remote access to install whatever they want on a computer, usually software that triggers ominous-looking warnings about potentially hazardous infections.
The fake anti-virus software is commonly known as rogue security software or rogueware.
It can be used to harvest information from a computer, including online banking passwords and credit card account numbers.
A lot of the suspicious activity has been linked to aggressive telephone solicitors claiming to work for “Support On Click” a company based in India that appears to be marketing “PC Security Shield,” a known rogue program.
Investigators overseas report the fraudsters have targeted residents of Canada, the U.S., UK and Australia.
People who make the mistake of allowing remote access by out-of-the-blue callers usually end up having to alter their financial institutions and changing all their passwords and other sensitive information.
Online security experts advise hanging up if you get an unexpected phone call from someone about your computer system’s security status.
And never give a stranger remote access to your computer.
Don’t give out personal, credit card or online account details over the phone unless you made the call to a known number.
Protect your computer with software from a legitimate, known source.
For more information about internet scams, visit the Canadian Anti Fraud Centre website at www.antifraudcentre.ca.