Scamwatch: antivirus software fraud

Scamwatch: antivirus software fraud
Scamwatch: antivirus software fraud

Stay one step ahead of the fraudsters with our series of articles giving you the lowdown on the scams they use to trick people out of their hard-earned cash - and how to avoid being taken in by them.

This week, how criminals are targeting computer users unfamiliar with antivirus software.

How does it work?

Fraudsters are exploiting victims who are unfamiliar with activating or renewing antivirus software, according to the latest scam alert from Action Fraud, the National Fraud & Cyber Crime Reporting Centre.

It has become aware of a new scam in which consumers who buy brand new computers have followed links to fake antivirus websites after having problems activating their antivirus software subscriptions.

Those who have entered contact information on the websites, which also claim to be able to help those attempting to renew their antivirus subscriptions, have been contacted by fraudsters requesting payment for what should be a free service.

How can I avoid being caught out?

It is sensible to keep your operating systems, firewalls and antivirus software up to date to make life more difficult for fraudsters.

However, you should only use trusted online sources - such as provider websites - for help and information about installing and renewing antivirus subscriptions.

Otherwise, you leave yourself vulnerable to fraudsters out to con you out of money, and may even end up downloading malicious software, or malware, on to you computer.

I've been defrauded. What should I do?

If you have any doubts about malware, you should conduct a malware check using an online virus scanner such as the Microsoft Safety Scanner.

You should also report any requests for payment to help you install or renew an antivirus software subscription to the company that provides the software, as well as the Police via Action Fraud (0300 123 2040).