Derry homes are being targeted by fraudsters attempting to gain access to personal details on their home computers.
In one week alone several householders received cold calls from persons purporting to be from a trusted telecommunications provider but which turned out to be scam artists attempting to access details stored on their computers.
In one inciden this week 90 year-old Galliagh pensioner Nancy Donaghey was contacted by a caller who said he was calling from BT to help her speed up her PC. The elderly lady, who lives in Knockalla Park, was taken completely by surprise as she didn’t own a computer and never had.
Within days of the incident two of Mrs Donaghey’s relatives, who live in the Waterside, were also targeted by the caller.
Galliagh woman Cabrini Emerson, who lives near Mrs Donaghey, told the ‘Sunday Journal’ that another neighbour was actually caught out by the fraudster. She explained: “My neighbour’s young son answered the phone and the person on the other end, who spoke with an Asian accent, said the computer was running slow because it had a virus but he could help to solve the problem. The young man then turned on the computer and the caller directed him to a website which installed a programme allowing remote access to the computer and all information on it.”
The young man’s mother then became suspicious of what was going on and told him to hang up.
Ms Emerson said that people need to be alert to such scams to ensure the security of personal information, such as bank details, stored on their computers.
“All of this happened in the last week to people in Derry and there may well be other cases. People need to be warned that these callers are not genuine.”
No one from BT was available from comment on the matter yesterday but the company has warned customers to be on their guard to similar scams in the past.
A spokesperson for the police urged people to be vigilant to cold call fraudsters.
“Allowing remote access to a computer can result in damage being caused to it, and confidential private and financial information could be compromised and used for criminal purposes.
“Various methods are employed by criminals to get personal information but if a company or individual contacts you and you are unsure or feel that something is not right, then ask for their contact details to ascertain their identity. Police would advise that personal details never be disclosed to unsolicited callers or via email or online. Legitimate companies will not usually approach you in this way.
“Anyone who believes they may have been victim of a computer scam or has any concerns should contact the police on 0845 600 8000. Also contact the police about any suspicious cold call you receive and never give personal or financial details over the ‘phone to people you do not know”, the spokesperson added.