The Better Business Bureau of Vancouver Island is again receiving an influx of customer calls about a recurring mass marketing anti-virus scam targeting Vancouver Island.
Unscrupulous, aggressive scammers are fraudulently soliciting Vancouver Island residents by phone offering anti-virus computer software. In this scheme, marketers cold call individuals stating that the household computer is running slow or has been infected with a virus.
Using fear tactics and threats, the caller demands the consumer repair their computer immediately, over the Internet.
This can involve the installation of software or the computer owner allowing the caller remote access to their personal computer. Payment for the software or repair service is handled via credit card.
The callers fraudulently claim to be representatives from companies such as Microsoft, Windows, Jars Support or Online PC Care, as well as numerous other companies.
Credit card charges for the supposed software installation or repair service have ranged from $35 to $469 and are being debited by banks in Germany, Latvia, Russia, Ukraine, Mauritius, United States and Iceland.
“People should think twice when giving out any information — even if the name sounds legitimate,” says Rosalind Scott, executive director of BBB Vancouver Island. “Scammers often use familiar or well-established names in order to gain trust, which poses a real danger to the public.”
The following are some common features of the scam as reported by consumers:
• Unsolicited call representing computer repair-company.
• Caller requesting access to your computer.
• Urgent solicitation regarding a threat to your computer.
• Victims report credit card charges ranging from $35 to $469.
• Credit card charges are from foreign banks.
To protect yourself from becoming a victim of this scam and many others consider the following tips:
• Treat all unsolicited phone calls with skepticism. Check with the organization directly that the caller is claiming to be from, using the contact numbers found on their website.
• Do not provide any personal information. Many of these scam calls are an attempt to steal your identity, not just your money. Don’t provide personal information over the telephone.
• Never provide credit or debit card information for payment. You may be able to reverse charges made through your credit card, but you’ve given enough information for fraudsters to use your account for other transactions. And debit purchases are difficult to reverse.
• Report any fraudulent activity, especially if you’ve been a victim. Consumers should report any fraudulent activity to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501 or www.antifraudcentre.ca.
For additional details on this scam, visit phonebusters.com.
For more consumer tips on how to protect yourself from identity fraud and other scams, visit vi.bbb.org.
— Better Business Bureau of Vancouver Island