Would you believe that it’s been 8 years this month since I started writing for this auspicious publication? In those 8 years we have covered many topics from backups, solid state drives and upgrading your computer all the way through to astronomy and astro photography! The first article was related to the “I’m calling from Microsoft” scam and its probably worth revisiting this, as believe it or not, its still doing the rounds.

So, although I am sure that many of you will have heard of this and other scams where you receive a phone call from someone purporting to be from Microsoft / Apple / Your Internet Service Provider / your bank etc. to tell you that your computer is, sending out spam / viruses / compromised / etc.

I guess the easiest “rule” that you can use is this basic one – simply don’t believe anyone ringing you with this sort of news. If you follow that rule, then you will be right more times than you’re wrong. And this applies to messages that you might receive from supposed friends on Facebook messenger and What’s App. My father recently received a message from someone pretending to be me on What’s App asking for money, thankfully he asked some personal questions that proved the person he was talking to wasn’t me. Afterwards we talked it through and it appears that they simply played on the fact that most people have sons, because they never actually used my name, location or said anything about me. My father was worried and wanted to help, so he did take what he was reading at face value – you see we are all prone to being good human beings and want to help, this is how these scammers manage to get away with it and believe me, if they were not successful then they would stop.

One of the most recent scams that I have seen is the “pay a small fee to receive your package” scam – this is a good one (and likely successful for two reasons), they are asking for a small amount of money (a couple of euros) and its believable now with all of the changes that Brexit has brought with it. To give you more detail on this one, as it’s the latest one that I’ve heard about and therefore likely still not well known to many people. You receive a test message or email with a message in Spanish saying that a package is being held at customs and that you must pay an amount (1.70 in our case) to release it. The message also has a link to a webpage that will take your payment.
Of course, there is no package, all you are doing by making the payment is giving money AND your credit card details to a scammer – undoubtedly, they would attempt to use the card soon after they receive the details and rack up more expense in your name.

So please remember, question any messages you receive by social media – even if they are from friends and are asking unusual questions and if someone rings you then don’t give them access to your computer or any personal details until you have had a chance to check out what they are asking with a professional or your bank direct – never call them back on the number they give you.