Every organisation, whether in the public or the private sector, must respect the confidence placed in it by members of the public who hand over their personal data. Every customer, client and employee has the right to full control over the use of their personal information. Personal information is a valuable resource and processing it is a privilege earned by respecting the rights of individuals.
Members of the public must also be on guard to protect their personal information from criminal gangs and other organisations that purposefully set out to engage in fraud or mis-use. In that regard, the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner is calling on all households to be particularly vigilant when receiving phone calls from organisations “out of the blue” offering to fix problems that the householder did not know existed.
Specifically, the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner and Microsoft Ireland would like to warn people of a scam that remains active in the Irish marketplace. Irish consumers are receiving telephone calls from persons claiming to be from Microsoft, or working on behalf of Microsoft, to tell them they have a virus on their computer.
Details of the Scam:
- Consumers are cold called from someone claiming to be from Microsoft and told there is a problem with their computer and offered help to solve the computer problems.
- Once the caller has gained the consumer’s trust, they ask consumers to log onto a website to download a file to help solve the problem.
- They then ask for credit card details to pay for software which will fix the virus and also potentially attempt to steal from the person by accessing personal information on their computer. In addition to gaining access to your personal details, they can also infect your computer with damaging viruses and spyware.
Deputy Data Protection Commissioner, Gary Davis indicated “Our Office has received ongoing complaints and queries from unsuspecting members of the public who have received these calls. 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. We are making progress in identifying an Irish link to these calls and intend to bring prosecutions. 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.”
Speaking on the issue Paul Rellis, General Manager, Microsoft Ireland said, “Microsoft takes the privacy and security of all our customers and partners’ personal information very seriously. We are advising customers to treat all unsolicited phone calls with scepticism and not to provide any personal information to anyone over the phone or online. Anyone who receives an unsolicited call from someone claiming to be from Microsoft should hang up. We can assure you Microsoft does not make these kinds of calls”.
More information on this scam and how consumers can protect themselves is available here:
Note to Editors:
The Council of Europe has decided that each year there should be a special day dedicated to Data Protection. The 28 January is the anniversary of the opening for signature of the Council of Europe’s Data Protection Convention. This is the fifth year that countries across Europe and indeed beyond have marked the day by increasing awareness of data protection and privacy rights. More information on Council of Europe Data Protection Day can be found at: http://www.coe.int/t/e/legal_affairs/legal_co-operation/data_protection/
<heavy sarcasm>I was delighted </heavy sarcasm> to receive my reminder from Internet Register Ireland this morning dated Dezember 2009 [sic.] as it reminds me that it’s time for me to warn you all to beware these scammers. We’re obviously not alone as there has been an increase in trackbacks and comments on our original post on this matter. As one of our commenters points out at least it’s on Recycled Paper (you gotta love those Germans! 🙂 ) and this is what you should do with this letter on receipt: recycle it.
If you ever receive a letter or an email inviting you to join a directory, do a link exchange or other such activities always, always do a search about the company. Don’t just visit their site: it may look fine to you, it may even look spectacular but all that glisters is not gold. You may do a search and find mixed reviews on blogs and discussion forums or other social media. These reviews may or may not help you decide. Remember what these sites are offering you is exposure so you need to find out what kind of exposure you will be getting from them for your money and they should be prepared to use all the stats in their power to convince you. However you can also check how their site measures up on sites like Alexa.com, which is okay. (Know of other similar services? Please leave a comment below!) You can check out their Page Rank but more importantly brush up your understanding of how Search Engine Optimization works. There are stacks and stacks of resources out there – not least from Google Webmaster Central itself. If you owned a shop in a shopping centre or were attending a tradefair you would do everything in your power to make your shop/ stand em stand out from the others around you. Search Engine Optimisation, Search Engine Marketing and canny use of Social Media can get you noticed too. We run training events on all of these topics and plan to roll out lots of them in 2010.
For your information I am including a scan of the letter so you know what to keep an eye out for.