Warning over cold callers claiming Microsoft link

Helen Driver, scammed by a bogus Microsoft agent during a cold call
Helen Driver, scammed by a bogus Microsoft agent during a cold call

A HOSPITAL worker is warning on-line users to be wary of cold calling from firms claiming to be working for global software giant Microsoft.

Helen Driver of Ashbrook Road, St Leonards, was at home one evening when she received a call out of the blue from a man claiming to be working for Microsoft.

Speaking with an Indian accent, the man told Mrs Driver he worked for a firm called pchelpdesknow.com. He said her computer had sent several error messages to their mainframe in the east end of London.

The county council has recently received several complaints of a similar nature and is urging residents not to divulge any personal information via unsolicited phone calls or emails. Mrs Driver, who works at the Conquest as a cardiac technician, said she was unaware of any error messages but allowed the operator to remotely take control of her PC to fix the problem.

During this 30 minute call the operator opened personal files and claimed to find several that had been corrupted.

He then asked for $250 to help protect the system from any more viruses in the future.

Mrs Driver then realised that the man was not who he said he was and rang back to demand a full refund.

“I just got really angry over the phone because they had lied to me,” said Mrs Driver. “They had access to all my personal details.

“They could have have taken a lot of money but they didn’t thankfully. I still had to change all my bank cards and on line banking details.

“They were so convincing because the man’s opening gambit was – your computer has been sending us error messages.

“Well I’m not very computer literate so I let him take control.

“He showed me all these orange shields and red circles which baffled me. But it was a mistake because obviously there was nothing much wrong.

“I would just like to warn other people not to be hoodwinked by these people because they can be very convincing.”

Microsoft has made it clear that it has absolutely no connection with companies offering these ‘services’. Microsoft says it does not send unsolicited email or make unsolicited phone calls.

Councillor Tony Freebody, lead member for community services at the county council, said: “Very often, the victims of these types of scams are elderly or vulnerable people in our communities who may not be as confident or familiar with IT, computer programmes and email. If you receive an unsolicited email or telephone call that purports to be from Microsoft or any other company that you are not sure about then do not give out any of your personal information. Do not click on website links or download computer programmes.” Visit www.eastsussex.gov.uk/consumeradvice for more information or to make a complaint