Every few weeks, I get a telephone call from somebody who claims to have received a report that my computer has a severe virus infection.
When asked to explain where such a report would have come from, they usually suggest a link with Microsoft―for example, the most recent call was from the Windows Support Centre.
While it is plausible that some information from one of my computers may have found it’s way to Microsoft, this is most unlikely as I never bother with those ’send error report’ requests which often occur after a program has crashed.
In any event, the ‘Microsoft’ story does not explain where the caller obtained my home phone number.
The next step, of course, is for the caller to ‘solve’ your problem by linking up to your PC and scanning it to find (Surprise!! Surprise!!) a very serious infection which can only be cured by handing over your credit card details.
I frequently come across victims who have fallen for online versions of the same wheeze―porn, ‘illegal download’ and ‘get-rich-quick’ sites are the main culprits.
In my experience, the ‘free scans’ offered by these sites are the main cause of malicious software infection rather than a means of identification.
If you’re lucky, the perpetrator may just charge you a one-off fee for clearing the alleged infection but the potential consequences of allowing free access your computer and/or financial information could be a lot worse.
You wouldn’t give your credit card details or other personal information to a complete stranger in the street―so why do it because a computer is involved?