Computer scam ‘an increasing problem’

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Police in Larne are warning the public to be vigilant against bogus telephone callers offering to fix viruses on their computers.

The Times reported last week that an Islandmagee resident had been targeted by the hoaxers, who claimed that they could remotely install software to protect her computer from harmful viruses in exchange for immediate payment.

A PSNI spokesman has described the scam as an “increasing problem” and said: “Allowing remote access to a computer can result in damage being caused to it, and confidential private and financial information could be compromised and used for criminal purposes.

“Various methods are employed by criminals to get personal information but if a company or individual contacts you and you are unsure or feel that something is not right then ask for their contact details to ascertain their identity. Police would advise that personal details never be disclosed to unsolicited callers or via email or online. Legitimate companies will not usually approach you in this way.”

The police have issued the following advice to residents:

n If you are worried about viruses, a number of anti-virus software packages, both free and paid for, are available from reputable computer outlets and on the internet.

n Not all online software is safe to install – check it out with reputable dealers and computer publications.

n Make sure your computer’s firewall is turned on and that antivirus software is installed and up to date.

n Make sure security updates from your software company are installed regularly.

Anyone who believes they may have been victim of this type of scam or has any concerns should contact police on 0845 600 8000. Also contact the police about any suspicious cold call you receive and never give personal or financial details over the ‘phone to people you do not know.