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Beware Computer Scammers

by Paul Lewis, Saga Magazine – 16th January 2014
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Watch out for a new scam that could attack your personal details online.

More and more of us go online to conduct our business, our banking and our social lives. But the police website ActionFraud reports that more than 7,000 people in six months have been held to ransom by a cunning bit of software that encrypts the files on a computer hard drive and demands £500 for a key to unlock them.

Failure to pay within three days means the files are lost for ever. And paying the ransom does not guarantee your files will be saved.

The so-called 'malware' infects your computer when you click on a link or download a file from an email.

Never do this unless you are sure the email is genuine. If in doubt, hover the cursor above the link to see where it would take you.

You should back up your files regularly onto a hard drive that you then disconnect from your computer. And update your antivirus software regularly.

Report frauds to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or at the Action Fraud website and take your computer to a specialist. They can 'disinfect' it but may not be able to restore your files.

And a Reminder about the 'Courier Scam'

This is a reminder to residents in Aylesbury Vale to be on their guard to a scam that was prevalent across London and is now spreading to other areas. The scam is as follows:-

The victim receives an unsolicited telephone call from the fraudsters claiming to be their bank (or in some cases the police), stating that their systems have spotted a fraudulent payment on their card or that their card is due to expire and needs to be replaced.

The person may be asked to ring the bank back using the phone number printed on the back of their bank card. This helps to convince the person that the call is genuine.

However, the fraudster has kept the telephone line open so even though the person has called the bank, the call does not go through. Instead they are unknowingly connected straight back to the fraudster.

The fraudster gains the person's trust by pretending to offer assistance. In many cases the person is asked to provide their full bank card details and key in their PIN so that the existing card can be cancelled and their new one activated or authorised. The fraudster will then explain that the bank will need to collect the card.

The fraudster will then attend the person's address or send an innocent courier company driver to collect the card and sometimes provide them with a replacement card which is subsequently found to be fake.

Therefore, the fraudster has obtained the person's name, address, full bank details, their card(s) and the PIN(s). The bank cards are then used fraudulently.

There are a number of variations to the scam, including:

  • Fraudsters pretending to be the police and cold calling telling them that their bank account has been compromised. They suggest that the person should transfer their bank balance to a 'safe' police bank account.
  • Fraudsters pretending to be from the police attending people's addresses and retrieving the person's card and PIN.
  • Members of the public receiving letters on bank headed paper informing them that their account has been subject to fraud. The letter advises them to transfer their funds to a 'safe' account and that an official will be in contact to provide them with a new card and PIN.
  • Fraudsters contacting members of the public requesting them to cut their cards in half because their account has been compromised. They are then asked to post their cut card to an address where fraudsters simply tape the card together again and use the details to commit fraud.

Police advice is that if you receive such a call, end it immediately. If you are aware of any elderly or vulnerable family members, friends or neighbours, that may not have received this message, please let them know about the scam as soon as possible to help prevent further victims falling prey to this offence.

Please be aware that:

  • Your bank will never attend your home.
  • Your bank and / or the police will never collect your bank card.
  • Your bank and / or police will never ask for your PIN.

If you receive this type of call, report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040. In an emergency, dial 999 immediately.

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