A HAMPSHIRE firm is warning businesses and private computer users to be on their guard after a rise in reports of a scam by cyber criminals offering to fix computer viruses.

Fareham-based Taylor Made Computer Solutions is seeing an increase in complaints across the country from people who have fallen victim to the scam which involves people pretending to be Microsoft employees.

The caller claims to work for Windows or Microsoft and says they have detected a virus or “issues” with the victim’s computer and requests access to the machine. Once in they are then free to steal personal information or install software that allows them to control the computer remotely.

The scammers, who are thought to be operating from India, are thought to have ripped off tens of thousands of people across the world.

Matt Takhar, software development manager at Taylor Made, pictured, said: “We are hearing of more and more cases of this scam in Hampshire, with people getting scary calls from abroad about their computer’s vulnerability to viruses.

They can sound very credible, even though it’s complete nonsense. It’s a really unpleasant scam but, thankfully, very straightforward to avoid.

“People store all sorts of personal and financial information on computers and, once you let them in the scammers will have access to all of it. If you bank online, or do internet shopping, they could help themselves to your accounts.”

US-based Microsoft has issued advice to the public about the scam and say they would never call the public and offer technical support in a “cold call way”.

They say cyber criminals often use publicly available phone directories so they might know your name and other personal information when they call and then simply guess what operating system you’re using.

Tips to avoid falling victim to the scam:

  • Never give personal, financial or computer log-in details to anyone you don’t know and trust.
  • Never buy software or technical support services over the phone.
  • Never give control of your computer to a third party unless you know and trust them.
  • Hang up immediately and report all scam calls to the police.