Sussex residents warned about new phone scam

A NEW scam involving phone warnings about a computer virus is circulating in East Sussex, says the East Sussex Trading Standards team.

The warning follows a flurry of recent complaints to the Trading Standards team about the scam, which is believed to originate from call centres in India.

The scam starts with a call from someone who says they are from Microsoft.

The caller says they’ve had reports from your internet service provider of a serious computer virus, which, if not fixed, could cause your computer to completely crash.

The owner is then asked to open various programmes on their computer that appear to show critical errors.

The caller then claims that the only way to fix the computer problem is to download a special programme from a website – which will cost £185.

If the owner complies, not only will they have been scammed for this bogus ‘fix’ but the programme they have downloaded will enable every bit of personal and financial data on their computer to be handed over to a complete stranger.

Microsoft has made it clear that they have absolutely no connection with the companies offering these ‘services’.

Microsoft says it does not send unsolicited email or make unsolicited phone calls.

Councillor Carl Maynard, Lead Member for Economy, Transport and Environment at the County Council, said, “Very often, the victims of these types of scams are elderly or vulnerable people in our communities who may not be as confident or familiar with IT, computer programmes and email.”

He continued, “Our advice is that if you receive an unsolicited email or telephone call that purports to be from Microsoft or any other company that you are not sure about then do not give out any of your personal information.

“Do not click on website links or download computer programmes.

“The best thing to do is delete the email or hang up the phone.”

Common scams ‘cyber criminals’ using the Microsoft name include:

l “You have won the Microsoft Lottery.”

l Microsoft “requires credit card information to validate your copy of Windows”.

l An unsolicited email message with ‘security updates’.

l Someone from “Microsoft Tech Support” calls to fix your computer.