Most computer users are aware of the importance of having up to date antivirus software on their computer. But increasingly people are having their computers targeted by telephone. I have had a number of call outs recently to homes where unsuspecting folk have fallen victim of telephone virus scams.

Typically someone calls pertaining to be from the technical support department of Mircosoft or similar company. They say it has been drawn to their attention that your computer is running slowly or that you have a virus and they are calling to help you sort it out. They then use persuasive techniques to get the caller to allow the “technician” to connect to their computer remotely, or in some instances download and install their “special” program to resolve the imaginary problem and demand a fee of anything up to £200.

To protect yourself from this kind of attack you need to be on the ball and not give the caller any of your personal details or carry out any of their computer related requests. Microsoft have stated that they would never call you at home about such a problem, and it is unlikely that your ISP would do so either. If you receive such a call it is more than likely a scam. The best thing to do if you are unsure is to ask them for their company name and address and a telephone number that you can verify and call them back on. If they are reluctant to do so then it is almost certainly a scam.

At the beginning of August this year a Polish laptop repair engineer in London, who tried to hack in to an undercover reporter’s bank account, after stealing details from her computer was jailed for nine months. This raises the question of who to trust to repair your computer; high street retailer or small business adverts? With fears of personal data misuse and identity theft on the increase, it is important to be more cautious about who you let have access to your PC. Be sure to have your computer upgraded and repaired by certified professionals, preferably someone who has been recommended or has a good track record.