SCAMMERS are stealing access to bank accounts, credit cards and online shopping accounts by pretending to work for Microsoft, a Fareham IT firm has warned.
Taylor Made Computer Solutions is seeing a rise in reports of the scam across Hampshire.
It involves people pretending to be Microsoft employees and offering to fix computer viruses.
The caller claims to work for Windows or Microsoft and says they have detected a virus or other computer issues and requests access to the machine using the internet.
Once in, they are free to steal personal information or install software that allows them to control the computer.
The scammers, who are believed 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, said: ‘They can sound very credible, even though it’s complete nonsense.
‘It’s a really unpleasant scam but, thankfully, very straightforward to avoid.
‘Microsoft does not call the public and offer technical support, ever.
‘Never give personal or financial details to an unsolicited caller offering you technical support and never give any one who you don’t know and trust the log-on details to your computer.’
The consequences can be extremely serious.
Matt said: ‘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 potentially help themselves to your accounts.
‘It is safest to treat your computer like you would your wallet and keep a close eye on who you allow near it.’
The firm is offering tips to keep the scammers at bay.
They include: 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 a computer to a stranger; hang up immediately and always report all scam calls to the police no matter how brief the call.