Ongoing threats

While there hasn’t been a “new” virus or spyware threat for a while, all of the old favorites are still out there and still active.

Some to look out for (and not fall for) are:

1: The HMRC tax refund email

This is an email from HMRC to tell you that you are due a refund, usually of Income Tax. The email contains a link to supposedly claim your refund. The link takes you to an official looking website where you are required to enter personal and bank details in order to claim the money. The whole thing is a scam – HMRC will write to you if they need to speak to you, and do not generally use email to communicate with the public

2: The “Police” virus

We’ve written extensively about this one in the past, basically your computer is locked and and a ransom demanded to unlock it. This is theft, pure and simple, do not pay, and take your PC, laptop or tablet to someone (us 🙂 ) who knows how to get rid of it.

3: The technical support phone scam

Again, we’ve written and warned a lot about this one. Microsoft, “Windows”, BT, “your broadband provider” or anyone else will never, ever ring to tell you that there is a problem with your computer’s hardware which they have detected. All this is is an opportunity for the thieves to take control of your computer, steal your personal details and a fair chunk of your money. Hang up at once if you receive such a call.

4: The bogus charity wall chart / diary

One for businesses more, but still a scam. A pleasant sounding (usually northern) caller will ask if you want to support an anti-bullying (or similar) campaign in return for advertising in a local school, college, library etc, then get you to sign up for a Standing Order and a contract. There is no such campaign, and the callers can become abusive when challenged. We have fallen for this, then became aware of it, and now give as good as we get on the phone.

5: The “Locky” trojan

This one is really nasty, and encrypts your files beyond recovery. It arrives as an email attachement, usually in MS Word format, which when opened is garbled and unreadable. Once it has been opened, the damage is done and the trojan software is at work. Any files changed by the trojan are unreadable, and it cannot be reversed. At the end of the encryption process, a ransom for the decrytpion key is demanded. This is usually several hundred pounds, and is not guaranteed to work once purchased.


A good rule of thumb is that anything that appears to be too good to be true usually is, and that anyone ringing out of the blue will likely not have your best interests at heart. If in doubt, delete the email or hang up the phone.

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