Police warn consumers to be wary of computer-related calls
South Bethany police this week urged local residents to be wary of unsolicited phone calls regarding the security and function of their computers.
SBPD Lt. Linda O’Malley reported on Sept. 14 that the department had received a complaint from a local resident about a telephone call they’d received recently. The caller, who reportedly claimed to be an employee of the “Windows Assistance Company,” allegedly told the recipient of the call that the consumer’s computer was having problems with its security after having downloaded something from the Internet.
According to O’Malley, the caller offered to help with the purported problem if the consumer would first provide some personal information, apparently with an eye toward using that information for identity theft or other untoward purposes.
O’Malley said the telephone scam was going around, and that proved to be the case, when South Bethany Town Council members George Junkin and Jim Gross immediately told O’Malley they’d both received similar calls that very day. Junkin said the call had shown up on his caller ID display as an odd four-digit number, further indicating there was reason to be concerned.
O’Malley urged consumers to be proactive when receiving such unsolicited calls.
“They come from overseas, so it’s impossible for us to do anything with them,” she said. “The FBI has a Web site to report them,” she noted, advising consumers who receive the calls to report them via that Web site.
“Unless you called them and you want service from them, don’t give them any personal information,” she urged.
Similar scams can arrive via email or instant message, availing the scammer of the chance to directly install information-stealing software on the computer in question when a link in the message is followed, or even offering them the opportunity to directly take over the user’s computer when the consumer takes them up on the supposed offer of help and grants remote access to the computer.
Computer users who think they may have security problems with their computers can purchase well-known commercial security and virus-removal software at a local store, or they can download a number of free and low-cost alternatives, such as AVG (www.avg.com) and Avast (www.avast.com), or Microsoft’s own Security Essentials (or a combination thereof).
Routine scans and maintenance of computers go a long way toward ensuring that a computer remains free of viruses and Trojan-horse software, and continues to run efficiently enough that when infection happens, it’s obvious.
Consumers whose computers are still under warranty may also find help with ensuring their security or dealing with a possible problem by contacting their computer’s manufacturer. Alternatively, a trusted local computer repair shop can easily scan a computer for security or other problems, and they’re much less likely to take out a credit card in the consumer’s name than some unknown guy from Nigeria.