PC PAL is the UK's award winning Computer, Laptop, Mac & Smartphone support specialists, with experienced, qualified & local Computer Engineers based in your area. We are a name that local people have come to recognise and trust. Please take a moment to read our feedback from our loyal customers, or find your local PC PAL Engineer.
Newsletters, Tips & How-to's 18th December 2015 1688

Welcome to the PC PAL Newsletter - December 2015 

Like us, you are probably thinking '... where has 2015 gone!'. In around 2 weeks time we will be ringing in the New Year (after the 'big day' of the year of course, which we are trying not to mention!). In the lead up to the festive period, I'm sure many of you haven't been able to avoid the onslaught of Black Friday adverts and promotions both in the national press, on the TV and right across the Internet, promising amazing offers and discounts. This year, it seems that absolutely anybody selling anything online had a Black Friday offer.

Many retailers will also be starting their traditional 'January Sales' period on Christmas Day again this year (damn... we've mentioned it now!) - funny as the sales never start in January anymore, do they?! Our email inboxes will continue to face a deluge of promotions for the next few weeks, and unfortunately there will be unscrupulous people looking to take advantage of this period and will try to dupe you into a scam. 

Online security and the often misused phrase 'hacking' has hit the headlines several times this year, and worryingly there have been many reports of scams being perpetrated in person and over the telephone.

 To help you keep one step ahead of these pesky scammers, we have dedicated this month's newsletter to highlighting the top 5 scams we have seen this year.

 Keeping vigilant and ensuring your Computer, or Tablet and Smartphone is up to date with the latest security updates and Anti Virus type protection is always sound advice, non so more than at this time of the year.

 So, please take some time out to read our Newsletter and as always, please let us know what you think about our articles, as well as the ones written weekly on our blog: www.pcpal.co.uk/blog

Tip 1). Beware of strange calls from 'Windows' or 'Microsoft'.

One of the most common scams prevalent over the last few years has been telephone calls from overseas- sounding individuals stating that they are calling from Windows or Microsoft and will then proceed to usually telling you that your Computer is infected with a virus or has been flagged up on their 'system' as needing urgent attention. Other things they might say are that your Windows license has expired or your computer is sending them lots of error reports.

We have had it confirmed from Microsoft and their Windows team that they will NEVER call you under any circumstances (unless it was already specifically prearranged with their support team), so it's best to say you don't own a Computer if you do receive a call like this or just simply hang up. Avoid getting into any form of conversation with these people as there have been many reports from our customers who have been verbally abused by being 'uncooperative' customers and suffering unnecessary stress.

 These fake callers are usually based overseas and beyond the reach of the Police in this country, so although it might help reporting the incident to the Police, it's unlikely to result in any action being taken. On the plus side, Microsoft is working on shutting down these elusive overseas operators but it's proving to be a cat and mouse type of game!

Tip 2). That also goes for your Internet Service Providers.

It's also not uncommon for scammers to pretend to be from your Internet Service Provider (also known as your ISP or Broadband supplier) saying you have an overdue bill or a virus on your Computer. They pretend to call from BT, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media amongst others or may just say they are from your broadband supplier.

They may try and get you to allow them Remote Access to your computer (effectively handing over total control of your Computer to them via the Internet) and then get you to log into your online banking website. They may even say they will cut off your Broadband and to prove it by asking you to hang up the phone call and try calling someone else; the technique that these scammers use is to not actually hang up their phone, but instead mute the call so it seems like the line has been disconnected (when in fact it hasn't).

 If you receive a call like this and you question its legitimacy, then hang up and call them back using a telephone number for them from an old bill or from their official website. It is also worth calling from a mobile phone in case they hold the line open. Don't be afraid to challenge these people on the phone - your Broadband supplier will understand your caution should the call turn out to be legitimate.

Tip 3). Watch out for 'Phishy' (fake) emails.

Emails can be another way for scammers to get onto your computer. They will often spoof an important looking email (such as from a bank or HMRC). They may ask you to sign into your bank account by clicking a link in the email or by saying you need to fill in some missing details from an HMRC tax form to get a rebate/ refund.

 Both banks and HMRC would NEVER email asking you to do those things, so it's best to put the messages in the junk folder. Read carefully the wording of these emails as often spelling and grammar mistakes will enable you to spot a fake. Also, check the email address of the sender and also the link of any website in the email itself, but without actually clicking on it (by hovering the mouse pointer over the website address link, the real website address will appear. If this address looks suspicious, then simply delete the email.

 If in doubt, simply pick up the phone and call your bank or HMRC, or use the secure message communication method that the bank has previously advised you of.

Tip 4). Think before you click online adverts or pop-ups.

Sometimes whilst browsing the internet, you may get an advert or a pop-up message telling you that your computer is running slow or it has a virus/trojan. The advert will have a phone number shown advising you to call it (maybe even be a Freephone number). Usually when you call them they will want to take Remote Control of your computer to fix the alleged issue. These scammers have been known to remove anti-virus software and leave the computer unprotected. In some of the more distressing cases, the scammers have effectively 'locked' the customer's data, and held it to ransom until a fee has been paid.

 We have had reports directly from customers who have unwittingly fallen for these scams, often leaving them several hundreds of pounds out of pocket, not to mention the stress and worry caused.

Tip 5). Stay vigilant for Social media scams

Social media is another place to watch out for scams. This includes websites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn (used in the workplace) and the plethora of online dating and chat services.

Recently, there have been many reports of messages going around on Facebook that Facebook (which is a free service) was now going to charge £5.99 so you could keep your posts private. The fake announcement said you could either pay or copy and paste the message on your wall to stop it from happening. Facebook has said “Facebook is free and always will be”. Didn't TalkTalk make a similar claim about 'free broadband for life' a few years ago?!

 By their very nature, social media sites like Facebook make it easy for us to stay in touch with friends - but how well do you really know these new 'acquaintances'? That person with the attractive profile picture who just 'befriended' you and suddenly needs money is probably some cyber scammer looking for money.

 Another scam has involved customers receiving an 'urgent' request from one of your real friends who "lost her purse on holiday and needs some money to get home." So, being the helpful person you are, you send some money right away, per her instructions. But there’s a problem: Your friend never sent this request. In fact, she isn’t even aware of it.

 Her malware-infected computer grabbed all of her contacts and forwarded the fake email to everyone, waiting to see who would be duped. Instead, call your friend and speak directly with her about the issue. You might also have to break the unwanted news that their computer is infected with a virus as well.


PC PAL is the UK's award winning Computer, Laptop, Mac & Smartphone support specialists, with experienced, qualified & local Computer Engineers based in your area. We are a name that local people have come to recognise and trust. Please take a moment to read our feedback from our loyal customers, or find your local PC PAL Engineer.

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