The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is warning Australians to watch out for dodgy pop up windows that warn users that there is a problem with their computer.
The pop up windows generally direct the victim to call a 1800 number to remove a virus or fix a fake problem with their computer.
“Once a scammer has remote access to your computer they can install malicious software, steal your personal data, con you into paying for a ‘service’ of your PC, or sell you unnecessary software to fix a problem that doesn’t exist,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.
“These scammers are very convincing and sound like they’re the real deal when talking about tech issues. The pop-ups they create to lure people in look legitimate and are often made to imitate trusted websites for brands like Microsoft and Apple.”
There has been an average of 300 reports a month since the start of 2017.
“These pop-ups can often seemingly freeze your computer and clicking the close button on your browser often doesn’t work. This tricks people into thinking there really is a problem and calling the fake support line for help. Your first and best line of defence against this scam is to not call that number and close the pop-up if possible,” Ms Rickard said.
Users should manually close the pop up through Windows Task Manager (for PC users) or by using the Activity Monitor (for Mac users).
“If you do call the number never give a stranger—no matter how legitimate they sound—remote access to your computer,” Ms Rickard said.
“If you think you’ve been caught by this scam, call your bank immediately and let them know what happened to protect your personal bank and/or credit card details. If your credit card was charged for sham software or servicing, you can try to get your money back.”