How to (hopefully) spot a scam

We’ve been warning about scam telephone calls and emails for a long time.

Sadly they seem to growing in number and sophistication with more and more people being caught out and robbed.

If you have any doubt whatsoever about a telephone call or an email that you receive, hang up the phone or delete the email at once. Give no personal information to anyone you don’t know and don’t open any links in an email.

Here is a bit if a guide to what to look out for.

The more obvious ones – lotteries you’ve never heard of let alone entered, unexpected large amounts of money that need to “rest” in your account, banks or credit card firms you don’t use – ignore and delete.

Your bank or building society, HMRC, the PSNI, any of the energy suppliers, the Post Office, or any other reputable company will not phone you out of the blue / email you / text you to tell you that your money in the bank is at risk, the police are on the way to arrest you for unpaid tax or bills, you owe a fee to have a parcel delivered, your electricity or gas is about to be cut off, or for any of the other reasons scammers will try to frighten you or put you off balance.

If you receive any communication saying any of the above it is a lie, and someone is trying to rob you. Don’t reply to an email or a text, and put the phone down. Don’t enter into any of it. Delete and block if it is an email or text, and if your phone allows it block the telephone number.

One to particularly watch for is a nearly legitimate link in an official looking email. The thieves have become adept at making their emails look real. The days of badly scanned logos and spelling mistakes are mostly gone, but they give themselves away with links for you to click.

If you want to go to Amazon, you click on amazon.co.uk and do your shopping. A scam Amazon Prime email (as an example) will want you to go to amzaon.co.uk or similar – note the spelling mistake – or the likes of amazon-sales.co.uk which is nothing to do with the legitimate site. Any such links are to be avoided at all cost.

Another tactic used by telephone scammers is for them to “understand” that you think that their call (usually from a bank security service) is a theft attempt, and for them to give you the correct number for your banks fraud team. You hang up, but because they don’t the line does not clear.

They will then play a dialling tone sound to you, so that when you think that you are ringing the “bank” you end up speaking to another of the scammers who reassures you that the original call is legitimate, and “transfers” you back to the original caller who then steals your money.

One very sneaky and recent one is an email scam, pretending to be from someone you know, who is in trouble but can’t get to the phone. If you reply, you will be asked for money to aid your “friend”. All you will be doing is giving your money away to a thief. If you get such an email, contact your friend by phone or in person and tell them what is happening.

Please be very, very careful.

Anything that sounds remotely doubtful probably is. Don’t give any personal information unless you are absolutely certain who you are speaking to.

If you have any concerns about a number which has called you and asked for details or claims to be someone that they may not be, ring the police on 101 and make a report.

 

2020 – where to start…

What a year this has been  😕

Thankfully we’re (so far) remained free of Covid, and while it has been far from a busy year we’re still here, still repairing PCs and laptops and giving free, impartial help and advice.

Thanks to everyone who have used our services in 2020.

We quietly “celebrated” 21 years in business in November.

We’re closing on Wednesday 23rd for Christmas and will re open on Monday 4th January with very limited hours initially due to the latest lockdown. There will be more detail about this nearer the time.

We won’t be doing any callouts for the forseeable future, and if you need to come and see us, please get in touch first to make an appointment, please wear a mask, and don’t pass the front counter.

The scammers remain very active. Please be very vigilant over the holidays and if it sounds too good to be true or if you smell a rat, end the conversation and notify the police.

Have as good a Christmas as possible, please stay safe, and all being well we will see each other sometime in 2021.

September Covid update

We’re back to our normal opening hours, and happily are very busy. Thanks to everyone who has used our services over the summer.

Given the recent rise in Covid-19 cases and the restrictions imposed because of it, we will only be doing call outs if they are absolutely necessary, so please don’t be disappointed if we ask you to bring broken or misbehaving equipment to us or if we tell you that we can’t come to see you.

We would also ask that you wait at the front counter on arrival, and use the hand sanitiser provided. We will clean any equipment you leave with us on arrival and prior to collection.

Please remain safe.

Mid June Covid 19 update

With most shops etc now open again we are extending our opening hours a little further, though still trying to stay very safe.

We’re now open from 9.00 – 1.00 Monday to Friday, with the same distancing as before – don’t come past the counter unless asked, and don’t be offended if we clean your computer.

We still aren’t doing call outs, but phone, email and Facebook message help is still freely available.

The scammers also seem to have calmed themselves; we’ve not heard of anything new for a while, but please still be wary of cold calls – it isn’t the bank, the police or your internet provider – and remember to stay safe.

Covid-19 update

That has been an “interesting” nine weeks. Thankfully we are still here, and keeping very safe.

Many thanks to all who have been in touch with messages of support and who have used our service during this difficult time.

We’ve been operating with very restricted opening hours since the lockdown began, and for the time being will continue to do so.

Currently the office is open between 9.00 and 11.00, Monday to Friday to deal with urgent repairs and answer email, phone and Facebook message queries. Advice and support is and always will be freely available.

If we do need to see your computer, please ring ahead to make sure that we are ready for you and so that we can discuss the procedures in place for leaving it with us while maintaining distancing. We clean everything as it comes in and before it leaves.

We still aren’t doing call outs until we can be sure that it is safe to do so.

Finally, please be aware of the many Covid-19 related scams that are doing the rounds. If it sounds too good to be true, it is, whoever you use for internet provision won’t ring you to say that there is a fault,  and your bank will never, ever ring you to ask you to move money from your account.

If you receive such a call, hang up without giving any information, record the number using 1471 if possible, and let the police know what has happened, even if you haven’t fallen for the scam.

Above all, stay safe.

Covid-19

We are – for now – still open, and are taking all precautions to avoid becoming infected and also from infecting others.

We aren’t doing any call outs for the foreseeable future, and if you come to see us please stay on the door side of the counter.

 

Christmas 2020 holidays

Many thanks to all who have used our services throughout 2019 and made it one of our best years ever.

We celebrated twenty years in business in November, and couldn’t have done it without the support of all of our clients. Thank you all.

We are closing tomorrow – Friday 20th – at 12.00, and won’t be back until January 3rd 2020.

We won’t be checking voicemail or mobile messages during this period, and the office will be closed.

Please have a safe and happy holiday.

(Yet another) scam update

Over the past two weeks we’ve seen a slight change in the long running “your broadband / PC / laptop has a fault” series of scams.

Instead of the usual call centre, there is now a recorded message advising of the fault, with option to press 1 to be connected to an operator.

This works to the thieves advantage, as they are now no longer manually ringing telephone numbers where the call recipient hangs up or there is no-one in, instead if the victim does choose to speak to them the job is already half done and there’s a better chance of success.

So far we’ve had a call from BT (we don’t use BT!) to say that our broadband connection is faulty, and more recently one from Amazon stating that there was an issue with our account.

The Amazon one was more worrying as it stated that we had been signed up for Amazon Prime and that a £90.00 charge was about to be imposed. All lies, of course, but designed to make you press 1.

Please spread news of this far and wide .

The sad demise of Internet Explorer

Microsoft introduced Internet Explorer in 1995, and officially replaced it in 2015, with version 11 being the final one.

However, it is still available in Windows 10 if you look hard, although the Edge browser (introduced in Windows 10) would be Microsoft’s preferred alternative.

Many people still use Internet Explorer, but we’ve recently noticed that some basic functions in websites have become difficult or stopped working altogether while using it. We’ve seen difficulty in printing emails, accessing BT webmail, and have heard of issues logging into online forums and Facebook.

We think that if you are still using Internet Explorer that the time has come to change to a more modern browser that won’t give you problems and is less of a security risk. We recommend (and use) Google Chrome, however there are many alternatives such as Mozilla Firefox, Opera and of course Microsoft Edge.

It can be troublesome (although not impossible) to transfer favourites, saved password etc. from one browser to another, so if you feel that you need to change browser but aren’t too sure how to do it please come and see us 🙂

July holidays

We’ll be closing tomorrow (July 11th) around 12.00, then will be off until Tuesday 16th.

The scammers don’t take holidays, so please be vigilant 🙂

We’ve also heard of several card “skimmers” in the local area, the most recent one was at the ATM at Tesco in Springhill, Bangor so take care there too.