Scammer offers to drop by
A phone scammer posing as a Spark employee has been recorded on tape by a Hamilton woman suggesting a visit might be arranged to her home.
The scammer told the woman – who asked not to be identified by name – that an ‘‘agent’’ would call back in the evening to fix an appointment ‘‘and come to your place’’ to look after a supposed malware issue.
The woman said it was possible the scammer was just trying to find a ‘‘professional’’ way to end the conversation after she told him she had no computer and only a smartphone.
Spark spokeswoman Lydia Tebbutt agreed it was quite possible the scammer was bluffing about setting up a visit but said ‘‘the idea of this actually happening is concerning’’.
‘‘The best way customers can protect themselves is to never provide personal information – including addresses – to someone who has phoned out of the blue,’’ she said.
So-called ‘‘tech support’’ scam calls have plagued Kiwis for several years but do not generally involve home visits.
Tebbutt said it was ‘‘great’’ the woman had been able to record the exchange so others could ‘‘listen to one of these calls, hear what they’re like, and identify them more easily if they receive one’’.
‘‘The customer’s instinct that something wasn’t right was spot on – and her resolve to leave the call and phone Spark direct to ask about the alleged issue is exactly what we’d recommend someone do if they’re unsure about the legitimacy of a call.’’
Scammers – typically claiming to be from Microsoft or an internet provider – frequently call people and invite them to open files on their computer that will normally list ‘‘errors’’. The scammers falsely claim this is evidence the device has been compromised.
They will then often ask for help to download malware, disguised as a fix, and charge their victim for the ‘‘service’’.
Many of the scam calls are believed to originate from firms in India, some of which may once have been legitimate businesses providing phone support.
‘‘Tech support’’ scam calls don’t usually involve the promise of home appointments.