There's a sucker born every day, but you should ensure that you are not one of them. This page will expose some of the prevalent scams that are afflicting Australians.
Most computer virus or trojan infections are caused by the users being tricked into installing them onto their computers by some clever social engineering. Scammers operate on the principle that a small percentage of people are gullible and will believe almost anything put before them. In the old days, snake-oil salesmen only had the crowd in front of them to scam, but the Internet provides the opportunity for crooks to perpetrate their scams onto tens of millions of people in a day and of course, some of them will fall victim to them.
One such scam is the fake security software ploy. For instance, an email purporting to come from the Westpac Bank is received that states, "We strongly recommend that you install Westpac Trusteer Rapport security software. Trusteer Rapport adds valuable security when you log on to Westpac Internet Banking. It checks that you are using the real Westpac website and not a fake. It locks down the link between you and the bank so that fraudsters can't listen in. Finally, it blocks all known viruses that target online banking. Rapport doesn't replace your Personal Internet Banking security details or other protection such as anti-virus software. It works with them to add extra security. It only takes a few minutes to install the software and there is no need to restart your computer. Please download the attached html form."
Of course that's exactly what this does not do. The attachment is not the real Trusteer Rapport that banks use to confirm the real identities of users, but is the trojan that that grants the scammers full access to the user's bank account that can then be cleaned out by them.
This type of scam relies on the users doing the dirty work for the scammers and installing the malicious software themselves. The one thing that all computer users should refrain from doing is to open attachments in emails, whether they come from what appears to be close friends or total strangers. One of the most prevalent scams relies on hijacking a person's computer and sending out scam emails that purport to be from that person, so clicking on attachments from any emails is fraught with danger.
But the remedy is too simple. As soon as one of these scam emails arrives, never click on anything, but just delete it together with the attachment, just like every email from every bank should be deleted. Bank do not sends emails to their clients, but contact them by mail or by the bank's own website secure mail services. This type of scam does not necessarily come from a bogus bank email address - it can seem to come from literally any institution or company. The remedy is always the same - delete it on the spot.
This scam is targeted at all Microsoft Hotmail account holders. This is how it works. There are two ways people's accounts are attacked.
Hotmail account users receive an email from the Hotmail account of a friend and it contains a link. The users assume that because a friend sent the email, it must be all right, so the users click the link, which plants a type of virus that harvests the userís Hotmail usernames and passwords and then the scammers use those accounts to send out spam and also send out more emails to any contacts in the userís contact lists to perpetuate the scam.
Hotmail account users receive an email or a Messenger message stating that if they click on a link that is provided, they can discover who is blocking them in Messenger. The website to which they are taken asks them to enter their usernames and passwords for this vital piece of information about being blocked. Obviously as soon as they do this, the scammers have it and they hijack the accounts of those users.
Very simple - just log into your Hotmail account and change your password and that should stop the problem. BUT - you have to ensure that your Hotmail account does not get hijacked again. Follow these rules religiously and you canít go wrong.
NEVER EVER give anybody your username and password UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES. If you get an email purporting to be from your bank or any other service, stating that this service will be curtailed or cancelled unless you go to a website (usually via a link) and enter or verify your details, NEVER EVER DO IT. Your bank and those legitimate businesses with whom you deal already know your username and password and you donít have to verify them. SO NEVER EVER DO SO. The same goes for your Hotmail username and password - Microsoft already knows it.
NEVER EVER click on ANY links in any emails unless you are 110% sure that they are safe - and of course you donít know if they are safe unless you contact the sender first and make sure that the sender actually sent the links and some virus didnít do it from their computer or Hotmail account. Most viruses, Trojan horse programs and scams like this one are sent automatically from the hijacked accounts of people who donít know this is going on, but they rely on the social engineering aspect that if people receive emails that come from legitimate contacts, they assume that these emails were actually sent by those people, not by scammers who hijacked their accounts.
Ask all your email contacts to inform you IMMEDIATELY if they ever receive an email purporting to come from you that contains links to websites such as pharmaceutical companies or bogus bank or PayPal websites, so that you can act immediately to fix the problem.
Here is a very nasty scam that is being perpetrated on people in Australia. This is how it works.
A guy rings you up out of the blue and tells you that he is from Microsoft or some IT company and that this company has discovered that you have a nasty computer virus. He says that if you allow him remote access to your computer, he will get rid of it for you.
So you foolishly swallow this story from an anonymous caller and allow him to log on as System Administrator, effectively giving him full access to everything on your computer and being able to do whatever he likes to it.
He immediately may do any or all of the following:
He will most probably deactivate your virus scanner, so that it appears to be working, but is NOT.
He most probably will install a bot program that turns your computer into his slave that he can control remotely to access and use as he wishes, either as a spam remailer or as part of a bot-net for Distributed Denial Of Service (DDOS) attacks to use to bring down websites as part of an extortion racket.
He most probably will install a keylogger to send him every keystroke you make on your computer. The next time you access your on-line bank portal and key in your username and password, he will get it and probably clean out your account on the spot.
He may install a program that encrypts all your important Word, Excel and other important files, making them inaccessible. If you donít have those files backed up, you will not be able to access them. This could devastate your business. Then he will contact you and offer to decrypt those files - for a large fee. The software that performs this nasty deed is called ransom-ware.
He will tell you that you have malicious viruses on your computer and he can get rid of them for you - for a fat fee.
He may do a lot of other things, but I donít want to bore you with the details.
If you are contacted by phone or by email by a person claiming that you have a virus and offering to fix it for you on-line, TELL HIM TO GET STUFFED and hang up. That fixes things on the spot.
GOLDEN RULES OF COMPUTER SAFETY - MAKE THIS YOUR COMPUTER BIBLE.
NEVER EVER allow anybody to access your computer on-line - FOR ANY REASON WHATSOEVER. It doesnít matter what they tell you, or what yarn they spin or who they claim they are - NEVER EVER give anybody any access to your computer on-line.
NEVER EVER give anybody your username or password to ANYTHING OR ANY WEBSITE. If somebody rings or emails you and purports to be from your bank or even some on-line portal that you use, NEVER EVER disclose your username or password under any circumstances. Your bank knows this information and so do all those places with whom you do business.
DO NOT click on links in emails unless you are absolutely certain that they are legitimate - especially in emails from your contacts. Many viruses and Trojan Horse programs hijack peopleís email contact databases and send out emails to the friends of those people with links to phoney bank websites that try and harvest usernames and passwords.
MOST IMPORTANTLY - If you are contacted by phone or by email by a person claiming that you have a virus and offering to fix it for you on-line, TELL HIM TO GET STUFFED and hang up.
DO NOT GET CAUGHT. Follow the golden rules above and you will be a lot safer from the scammers - and believe me, these people are very clever and they know all the tricks in the book to make gullible people reveal confidential information such as usernames and passwords and even give them unfettered access to their computers.
BE SUSPICIOUS OF EVERYTHING - donít let your guard down for one second, because if you do, it will cost you dearly.