Computer says ... this is a con!

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Scammers are targeting consumers seeking help with printer problems via fake “helpline” numbers in social media and on websites, authorities have warned today.

National Trading Standards said it had seen an increase in the number of cases reported to its eCrime team by people who had unwittingly contacted the scammers directly, only to have personal information such as back account details stolen.

This printer helpline scam is particularly pernicious because it encourages victims to unknowingly contact the fraudsters of their own accord

National Trading Standards eCrime Team lead co-ordinator Mike Andrews

It warned that the scammers asked for remote access to the computer linked to the printer to resolve the problem, with one group demanding payment to return control to the owner.

Action Fraud, the UK’s national reporting centre for cybercrime, said cases of computer service fraud, including the printer scam, had risen by 47% since 2014, to a total of 32,719 incidents last year.

National Trading Standards eCrime Team lead co-ordinator Mike Andrews said: “This printer helpline scam is particularly pernicious because it encourages victims to unknowingly contact the fraudsters of their own accord.

“While victims expect they will receive help with their printer problems they have in fact been lured into a trap and find themselves at risk of losing money, important personal information and also having their computer security compromised.”

National Trading Standards chairman Lord Toby Harris said: “I would urge people to be particularly vigilant about this scam.

“If you are seeking help for printer issues you should always use the official printer helpline details provided when you bought the product or consult the official website of the manufacturer for helpline details.

“If you have fallen victim to a scam or see suspicious activity online then please report it to Action Fraud and to Citizens Advice on 03454 040506.”