Your home phone rings and it's someone claiming to be from the tech support of a trusted company such as Microsoft or your broadband provider. They say there's been some unusual activity on your account, or an urgent problem they have to fix immediately. All you have to do is give them access to your computer and the tech support team will resolve the problem.
This may sound familiar to you as research from Microsoft reveals 69% of UK households have received a tech support scam call.
The Scammers' Tactics
They tell you your computer or router has been compromised then try and persuade you to give them access to your computer. Once they have access to your computer, they have all your personal data and more. They've been known to take out bank loans using your data and even watch you in your own home using video-audio software like Skype.
One thing the scammers are good at is following a process; they are pretty consistent on the tactics they use to take your money.
What's known as the tech support scam is a pretty consistent method they use to take your money. This video shows you in more detail the common steps they take.
TalkTalk has created three simple steps to help you spot scammers and stop them in their tracks:
Protecting yourself from scam callers
1. Hang up - Fraudsters are using increasingly sophisticated techniques to make themselves seem plausible and win your trust. Think calmly about what you are being told and ask yourself if it makes sense. If you're being asked for a lot of personal details or it simply doesn't feel right, hang up.
2. Make tea – Making a cup of tea is the perfect opportunity to get away from the phone, pause and reflect on what to do next.
3. Call back - If the caller claimed to be from a company, call the official number (not the number you were called by) and ask whether they've called you. If they didn't, they can help you report the possible scam.
What to do if you gave the scammers access to your computer
Scammers use software like teamview or support.me, which allows them to remotely take control of your PC. If you have any doubt then:
- End the remote log-in session – fraudsters are known to remain logged in and can continue monitoring you and accessing your information
- Shut down your computer
- Restart your computer and run a scan with anti-virus software - TalkTalk provides all customers with a SuperSafe Boost, free of charge, with award winning software developed by security specialist F-Secure.
- Change all your passwords - Scammers are known to take your data and use it for other scams so it's highly recommended you.
If you've paid money then you must contact the company you paid through immediately as in some instances they can get your money back within 24 hours such as Western Union, your bank or your credit card company. You should also report a scam with Action Fraud, if you have lost money they may even trace the money and get this back.
Anyone who has fallen victim to a scam, and revealed banking information, should contact their bank immediately and report it to Action Fraud, the UK's national fraud and internet crime reporting centre, which can be reached on 0300 123 2040 or via www.actionfraud.police.uk
Reporting a scam call
As scam calls are a rapidly growing issue in the UK, companies are now providing methods where you can do this online for investigations and with more broadband providers blocking the scammers' number(s) on their network.
- Microsoft has a report a scam form online and they will use this for their investigations.
- TalkTalk has a website where you can report scams online at talktalk.co.uk/scams and their Customer Security Investigations team will look to block the scammers' number on their network. They block on average 90 million calls a month.
- Virgin – If you call them they will report the scammers' number.
What is being done to stop the scammers?
TalkTalk take protecting their customers very seriously, which is why they have launched a Beat the Scammers Campaign to warn their customers about UK Scams and their tactics.
- They are already blocking around 90 million calls a month on their network, of which cover 40% of from numbers customers reported as a suspected scam call.
- Early next year you will be able to block up to 100 numbers free of charge and also report a scam call on your home phone
- They have a new calling feature coming out which is proven to stop 95% of nuisance and scam calls from contacting you.
- TalkTalk are the only telecoms providers who offer customers calling features free-of-charge to protect them from scam calls. These include last call barring and caller display