Computer scam surfaces

Penticton man contacted by person claiming to be with Microsoft

A telephone scam is circulating through Penticton using one of the most recognizable names in the computer business.

Penticton resident Doug Peaker said he received a strange phone call Wednesday morning from a person claiming to be from Microsoft.

“I had a call alerting me to a hacker in my computer. He really had me on the go because he had my phone number and my name and asked me to turn my computer on,” said Peaker.

Finding the call suspicious, Peaker told the person on the phone that he would call them back when he could get over to his computer and turn it on.

“He said ‘No, no, no that doesn’t work,’ and then I said how do I know that you are not the hacker? As soon as I said that the line went dead,” said Peaker. “I am a rookie to the computer system, but cautious, and he really had me on the go for a bit. It’s concerning. He said there had been some serious hacking going on and if I don’t correct it right now I could be getting all these viruses.”

Alain Fortier, computer tech with Doc’s Computers in Penticton, said he has had several people in the city call him asking about this very same scam over the past couple of months.

“What they try to do is try to get inside your computer to fix a non-existing problem then charge your credit card. I think they are just cold calling people. I have a lot of people calling me about it  but I haven’t heard of anyone falling for it yet,” said Fortier.

“This has been going on for two months and it comes in waves. It has been a week and a half since I have heard of anything but received several calls (Wednesday) morning about it.”

The Better Business Bureau in British Columbia put out information last December regarding the telephone scam that has plagued the U.K. and Australia for the past couple of years and has recently arrived in Canada.

“People should think twice when giving out any information, even if the name sounds familiar,” said BBB Mainland B.C. president Lynda Pasacreta.

According to the BBB, in some cases the victims are directed to download a program to fix the problem, which instead hands over remote access to their computer to criminals. Then they are told they have to pay a fee for the supposed service, meanwhile the culprits have complete access to everything on the victim’s computer.

Microsoft does not make calls to fix people’s computers, but the BBB said using the company’s name helps the caller earn the victim’s trust.