Microsoft warns of new credit card security threat


Internet users have been warned of a new scam in which criminals pose as computer security engineers in a bid to secure people's credit card details and other personal information. The extent of the emerging internet scam has been revealed by a new survey from Microsoft, which has also issued security advice for computer users. The survey highlights the need for vigilance at all times, particularly when contacted by an unsolicited caller.


Average victim loses £542
Microsoft's latest survey reveals the extent to which this new scam has spread. Of the 7,000 computer users who were polled in the UK, Ireland, the US and Canada, 15% said they had received a call from scammers. Typically, the criminals pose as computer security engineers and warn their victims of a security threat. They then use a range of deception techniques to steal money, either by acquiring their victim's credit card details or by gaining remote access to their computer.

The software giant found that 22% of people who had received a call from a scammer were tricked into following their instructions, and 79% of these individuals suffered financial loss. The average amount of money that was stolen from victims was £542, while the cost of repairing damage caused to computers typically reached £1,071.

"The security of software is improving all the time, but at the same time we are seeing cybercriminals increasingly turn to tactics of deception to trick people in order to steal from them," said Richard Saunders, director of international public and analyst relations at Microsoft in a press release."Criminals have proved once again that their ability to innovate new scams is matched by their ruthless pursuit of our money."

Top tips for scam avoidance
Microsoft says that people should be suspicious of any unexpected calls relating to internet security and must never hand out credit card or bank details to unsolicited callers. Anyone who visits a website, types anything into their computer, installs software or follows any other instructions from an unexpected caller could be placing themselves at risk of financial loss. In addition, computer users are advised to use up-to-date software, ensure security updates are installed regularly, use antivirus software with a firewall and change their passwords regularly.

See related: Sony customers face further credit card privacy woes; Why you should never reuse credit card PINs

Published: 20 June 2011