It’s important to stay in the know about the latest scams so you can keep your personal information safe from fraudsters. That’s why you might want to read about the latest scam doing the rounds, the Microsoft scam.
So what is the Microsoft scam?
There are quite a few variations on this type of this scam and it’s has been around for years, but it does seem to be doing the rounds again. The Microsoft scam is an example of phishing and it involves a cold call, email or an internet pop-up saying that your computer has a problem (usually a virus) and that people claiming to be from Microsoft can help you fix it.
In this case, the email or pop-up will have fake Microsoft branding to convince you that it’s trustworthy. It’ll then encourage you to click on the link provided, or to call a number so that their team can take remote control of your computer in order to address the problem. If you do respond to them and grant permission for them to take remote control and “fix” your computer, they will then demand a payment for what claim to have done.
Giving hackers remote access to your device might also mean that they could hold the device and the information held on it to ransom until a payment is given. Unfortunately, by paying for this ransom, it could also suggest that you are an easy target for their future scams.
This isn’t a new type of scam and it isn’t exclusive to Microsoft being impersonated, as fraudsters have tried to imitate a variety of trustworthy sources, even including HMRC.
These fraudsters are banking on the fact that customers trust companies such as Microsoft and so may be less likely to question the legitimacy of the fraudster. The key with phishing scams like these is to try and ascertain whether the link provided will actually take you to a legitimate website or not, as the links aren’t always what they say they are. Some browsers allow you to hover over the link (but don’t click!) and a button will show you the site that it would take you to if clicked, like below, otherwise it will show in the bottom of your browser:
Some phishing scams will also rely on victims making typographical errors made by internet users, when typing (misspelled) domain names into their browser, for example ‘www.gogole.com’ instead of ‘www.google.com’. This is a process called Typosquatting and ultimately the scammers want to collect your financial details; they might do this via cold-calling or emails asking for your personal information. Remember that companies that hold personal information about you will never contact you directly and ask for your details or password.
After being scammed, the financial loss is obviously a great one, but putting your computer in the hands of others could potentially lead to your personal information being stolen and sold on.
How can you avoid phishing attacks?
There’s a lot of ways that scammers can target you, so we thought we’d give you some tips to remember that could help you stay safe.
- Stay alert when checking your email inbox and watch out for suspicious looking mail.
- If you aren’t sure about the legitimacy of the site, try closing your browser and then searching for the intended email address, rather than opening it from an email.
- Do not reply to emails or pop-up messages asking for personal financial information.
How do you report a scam?
According to Which? only 39% of people know how to report a scam if they saw one!
If you think you might have been scammed, there are different companies that you should contact, depending on what type of scam it is. You can find the full list here (http://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/action/how-to-report-a-scam)