Courier and News columnist Canon Ron Greenall has been hoaxed by computer hackers.
Now he has issued a warning in the hope others will learn from his experience.
The author of our weekly Reverent Reflections column declared: “Computer scammers are at work in our area. Don’t be had as I was by a bogus so called internet service provider.This happened to me on Friday as I was keying in Courier/News copy and pictures. The caller claimed to be my service provider and gave me evidence to believe him and said he had noted my computer was running slow and needed attention.”
The rogue caller advised him that he could provide an online service to remove malware, (malicious software such as viruses).
Canon Ron said:“The truth is they were about to bombard me with malware and worse. The voice was foreign and I did have some difficulty following the conversation. I should simply have put the phone down on him. One and a half hours later I was still being asked to give him five more minutes and do this and that to my keyboard. I quit - alas I was too late. Everything on my PC had frozen. Nothing worked when I switched back on.”
For Canon Ron the story, finally, had a happy ending. He contacted his internet service provider and it was confirmed he had been hoaxed. He was advised to unplug the internet connection. Two computer savvy friends then came and spent four hours,first trying to backtrack to before the phone call and then putting four spyware and one clearance program on to his computer.
Canon Ron reported:“This managed to take off all the malware. It took off 127 programs/items!“
The retired cleric, a former vicar of St Thomas’s Garstang, was duped when someone rang pretending to be from TalkTalk/Tiscali and correctly quoted his internet account number.
He concluded:“What are the lessons to be learnt? First, always have your Internet Service Provider’s emergency number freely available for you to call in an emergency.
”Second - never accept a cold call from someone claiming to be your ISP provider. BT, TalkTalk, Microsoft, Virgin and all other service providers assured me they would never contact a customer by telephone in the way this scammer did to me.
“Third - Never follow any instructions from a caller to do this or that to your keypad to speed your machine,
“Fourth Beware - you’ll think you’re never as stupid as I was. I now know you can so easily be caught out!”
A TalkTalk spokesperson said:“Every year countless people are targeted by phone scammers. This is a growing problem across all sectors and unfortunately TalkTalk and other telecommunications companies are not immune.
“We know some customers are currently being targeted by malicious scammers claiming to be from TalkTalk who have obtained their account and phone number. We have been in regular contact with the ICO (Information Commissioner’s Office) and we urge customers to be alert, especially when asked for personal details or to remote access your computer, and not to give any more details over the phone.
“We encourage any customers who have been targeted by this scam – or indeed any scam where fraudsters are claiming to be from TalkTalk – to hang up and contact us so that we can help to catch them. They can do so by calling us or by using our online scam reporting form
The spokesmanadded letters had been sent to all customers on December 11 last year urging them to be aware of scammers.In the letter Tristia Harrison Managing Director, Consumer for Talk Talk stressed: “If you’ve received a call claiming to be from TalkTalk and think it might be a scam, then it’s important that you report it to us so we can investigate on your behalf. If you get an email claiming to be from us asking for personal information please forward it straight away to firstname.lastname@example.org”
Be Scam Savvy
More and more people are being targeted by phone and email scams in an attempt to extract bank and credit card details and steal money from victim’s accounts.
Financial Action UK estimates that as many as 58% of people have received suspect calls about their bank details.
You can block your number from receiving unsolicited sales calls by registering with the Telephone Preference Service.(www.tpsonline.org.uk)
But its website also carries a warning about bogus calls saying: “
Be wary of people calling you claiming to be from the Telephone Preference Service asking for payment to complete your registration. TPS is a FREE service.”
TalkTalk has created a new Scam Calls and Emails Guide.
1.Bank details - if a caller asks for these be aware it’s likely to be a scam. If you are unsure hang up and call the company back on its official number. TalkTalk promises it will never ask for such details without customers’ specific prior permission.
2.Dial correct numbers: Get phone numbers from a trusted sources such as the official website or latest bill.
3.If you think a call is supicious hang up. Before making a new call make sure the suspected fraudster has hung up too. If in doubt call a friend or trusted number to make sure your calls are going through correctly.
4.Beware Premium Numbers - These start with 090. Be suspicious of any messages asking you to make expensive phone calls, especially when they are to claim prizes or offers.
5.Use Privacy features. You can reject anonymous calls or block your last caller through the My Account page.
6.Scam techniques: You should never be asked to pay for viruses to be cleared from your computer or to fix issues over the phone. If you are hang up straight away.
7.TalkTalk emphasises It will never send emails asking for personal or security details and it will never call you and ask you to download software onto your PC, unless this has been agreed with you first.