Data Commissioner warns of fake Microsoft cold-calling scam

28 Jan 2011

The Data Protection Commissioner and Microsoft Ireland are warning the public to be wary of a cold-calling scam from people claiming to be representing Microsoft.

The commissioner has found that the scammers phoned people claiming they worked at Microsoft. They told individuals there was a problem with their computer and offered to help fix this.

They then asked the individuals to log onto a website to download a file which would solve the supposed problem and asked for their credit card details to pay for this.

Not only were the scammers stealing credit card details, but the file was found to contain a virus or malware. This infected people’s computers and allowed the cold callers to access their personal details.

The Office of the Data Protection Commissioner warned people of handing cold callers personal information, particularly when these callers claimed hardware had problems its owners didn’t know about.

The scam is still active and is under investigation.

“Our office has received ongoing complaints and queries from unsuspecting members of the public who have received these calls,” said Deputy Data Protection Commissioner Gary Davis. 

“This would appear to be a major scam targeting Ireland and people need to be aware of the issue. 

“Together with the Gardaí, ComReg and the National Consumer Agency, we have sought to highlight the issue to ensure that consumers do not fall victim.” 

Davis said they are making progress in identifying an Irish link to these calls and intend to prosecute.

“In the meantime, the best answer is to hang up if receiving such a call and if you have provided details of your credit card to any entity on foot of such a call, we would advise you to contact your credit card provider immediately.”