Beware cold call scammers
Police are warning people not to respond to computer scammers who phone and offer to fix computers remotely.
Blenheim intelligence support officer Sherryl Cameron said police had received about 30 calls from people in the past two weeks about the scam.
A caller with an Asian or Indian accent claims to be a Microsoft staff member calling about an error in the homeowner's computer system.
They ask the person who answers the phone to log on to a website so they can install remote access software to fix the problem, but in fact they are trying to gain access to things such as internet banking details. The Marlborough Express reported on a similar scam in September 2010 where people were also phoned by a foreign-sounding caller claiming to be from Microsoft.
Ms Cameron said some callers had been called two or three times.
Most callers were aware it was a scam but were worried someone vulnerable might be targeted and grant the caller access to their computer.
Brendon Price, of BP Computers on Kinross St, said a customer had brought a computer in on Monday after they unwittingly allowed the hoax caller access to their computer.
"We see them all the time," Mr Price said. "A lot of people bring their machines in to be checked or phone us after they've been called." While most people did not allow the caller remote access, if they rang 100 people, it would only take one to let them in, he said.
"It sounds official and convincing, so it does happen."
People who are called should tell the caller they do not own a computer and hang the phone up, he said.
"No one from Microsoft is going to call up and offer to fix your computer."
If a person did inadvertently allow the caller access, they should turn their computer off and bring it in to a computer shop to be checked, he said.
"If it's off, they can't get into it."
Bank account passwords and other important passwords should also be changed immediately.
OUR STORY FROM SEPTEMBER 2010 received comments from people around the world
The Marlborough Express