A phone scam that ranked number one last year for the Better Business Bureau of Mainland BC (BBB) is back in B.C. again. Callers claim that the person’s computer is compromised and they are requesting access in an attempt to bilk consumers out of dollars while at the same time giving them access to personal data.
“The virus fixing scam was particularly rampant across Canada last year and we are having similar reports again,” says Danielle Primrose, BBB President and CEO. “Scammers are trying to capitalize on the public’s fear that that their computer has been compromised.”
Consumers who have contacted BBB to report their experience say that the scam always starts the same way: the phone rings at their home, and the caller asks for the householder, quoting their name and address before stating that there “was a report from your internet service provider of serious virus problems from your computer.”
In order to “fix” it, the computer owner is directed to a website and told to download a program that hands over remote access to the computer. And then comes time to pay a fee for a subscription to this preventative service.
The catch: there was never anything wrong with the computer, and the owner has given a complete stranger access to every piece of data on their computer.
The company that is currently doing cold calls appears to be going under the name "Swap PC Care," which appears to be based in India according to its website. BBB attempted to contact the company, whose agent confirmed that they are calling Canadians, but refused to provide any further information.
BBB advises the public that these phony phone calls are common, and people should:
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.