The phone rings. The voice speaking to me is distant, as if in a galaxy far, far away. He informs me
that he is calling from Microsoft Windows; my computer is very slow; they need me to log on so they
can fix it remotely.
He starts to mumble and says forcefully: “Mr Peters we need to log on to your computer”. I hang up,
quickly. Of course this is a scam.
However, it wasn’t until I heard that “Microsoft” had also called other members of my family, friends
and indeed clients, I started to get a bit concerned.
This group of criminals are posing as Microsoft Windows, using “phishing tactics” to steal your
personal information. Since the first call in August I have had several each week from different
people with different accents – and they eventually get malicious when you refuse to turn your
Of course, there are many vulnerable people out there who will fall for this scam. And these people
know it – which is why they persist.
So what is phishing?
Phishing is the process whereby someone attempts to obtain your confidential information, such as
your passwords, your credit card number, your bank account details or other information protected
by the Data Protection Act.
A Phishing attack can be in the form of an official looking email or instant message, maybe directing
you to an official looking website, or it could be an official sounding phone call. For example some
phishing sites are replicas of well-known companies, such as Microsoft, and some of the site links
actually lead to the genuine site.
To avoid becoming a victim of a Phishing attack:
- Be wary of emails even from people you know as email addresses can be faked.
- Never reveal confidential information unless you are certain that the person you’re telling is genuine, and even then ask yourself if they are entitled to the information.
- Check the address of websites you visit as it may be obvious by looking at the Address box that the site is not genuine.
- Banks will never ask for your online bank details by email – you may wish to let your bank know the details if you have been sent a Phishing email.
- IT Services will never ask for your username and password.
So please be aware. If you get a similar phone call, be sure to contact Trading Standards
immediately. And hang up quickly.
Author : Craig Peters, Osprey PR
0844 826 3136 | craig [at] ospreypr.com |
CIPR Pride Awards 2009 winner: Craig Peters – Outstanding Young Communicator, Member of CIPR Future Leaders Forum