Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Spam Frighters

The phone rang the other day and I had the following worrying conversation with .... well perhaps I should disguise the identity of the person involved and just use coded initials. Let's call her "BN".

BN: "I've just had a nice lady from Microsoft on the phone helping me sort out the PC".

Me: "....er..."

BN: "Yes it has been a bit slow recently. She told me all the special codes to put in so she could take control of my PC and get all the problems sorted out".

Me: "...gulp..."

It wasn't long ago that we all laughed at the humorous attempts of spammers and scammers to let them have our passwords so they could help themselves to our banking or credit cards. How we guffawed when a Nigerian General emailed us to let us know about the 12 billion dollars he wanted our help to move into the UK. How we reached for the sewing basket to repair our sides when a Russian Oligarch requested our login credentials to help them move their Gasprom shares. These amusing foreigners were so obvious and crass we could treat them as a rib tickling diversion.

However, things have moved on. The "Microsoft Tech Support" scam is not new but is reaching new generations of PC users who have built up much more confidence with computers and it's just plausible enough to hook in all but the most savvy users. Similarly, the dodgy emails which entice you to click a link and thereby install a key logger or bot script are getting very sophisticated. I've had two in the last week that I *almost* fell for - one an eBay "customer" requesting a link to a finished item and one a UPS delivery exception report. And I'm one of the 12 most suspicious people in the Country!

There isn't an easy answer. All I can suggest is ensuring your virus detection is current and effective (I swear by the free Avast.com ) and keeping your guard up with every email. Let's be careful out there folks!


10 comments:

Sir Bruin said...

I had a very plausible email purporting to be from Paypal the other day. It is, as you say, easy to see how people can be taken in.

Rog said...

Yes and you are one of the other 11 most suspicious people Sir B!

Tim said...

My Yahoo mail account has been about to expire for the last twelve months. And I've sent millions of dollars to my stranded friend in Ukraine.

(This comment may actually be from me ...)

Z said...

It would also help if one's bank didn't phone, expecting the account holder to identify themself, whilst being indignant if asked to prove its own identity (I got completely bogged down with impersonals there, sorry).

Sir Bruin said...

I'm sure that I don't know what you mean, Rog. BTW, I detected some errors whilst trying to post this. If you send me your bank details, I'll fix them for you.

Pat said...

I'm constantly being asked to update Adobe Flash Player and sometimes succumb but it never works.

mig bardsley said...

After getting a million calls from companies asking us to pay our 2nd annual installment we began to ask them for the password to our 'account'. They don't like it.

Steerforth said...

I'm amazed at how many of these 'official' emails from banks, Paypal and Amazon have simple grammatical errors that completely undermine the official tone. One even used 'U' for you.

gabriellebryden said...

It's a huge problem and getting more and more sophisticated - I've taken to training the kids in all manner of cons so they will be very suspicious (they'll either grow up thinking I'm a criminal or very paranoid I'm sure) - I can see how even smart people would fall for some of the emails and phone calls.

allotmentqueen said...

Yes, they are getting more and more sophisticated sometimes and then again more and more obvious at other times. But, having said that, two of my children have had their PayPal accounts hacked in the last few weeks. In my daughter's case someone had used it to make six purchases in the space of about ten minutes all to Sports Direct, totalling about £1100. Fortunately it was the last Bank Holiday Monday and nothing had been dispatched. When she got through to PayPal they were able to confirm that the orders had been placed in another country and passed the details on to the police.

I have a notice by the phone saying "I'm sorry but under the Data Protection Act I cannot possibly tell you that" for when I'm asked for anything at all dodgy.