The B.C. RCMP has declared March fraud prevention month and on that note, the Citizen is running a series of stories on the various types of fraud that can be encountered and how to protect yourself against them:
You're on your computer and perhaps you've neglected to update your anti-virus software - or never bothered to buy any in the first place.
Suddenly, a message appears on your screen warning that your computer has been associated with child pornography or illegal music downloading.
You can't get the message off your screen, even after you've reboot your computer and it demands that you use your credit card to pay a $100 "fine" via Ukash, a payment service provider, to have your computer "unlocked."
What's more, it carries the logo of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police as well as an international police organization dedicated to combating such activities.
What do you do?
Well, for one thing, the RCMP has nothing to do with it.
"Neither the RCMP nor any other Canadian government agency would hijack computers in order to obtain money," says the Canadian Anti Fraud Centre (CAFC) in a bulletin.
And whatever you do, do not pay the $100. Your computer will remain locked.
What you have is a version of malicious software (malware) called "ransomware" or "scareware," the centre of a scam "designed to create shock and anxiety so that victims respond by sending money quickly," says the CAFC.
Your best bet is simply to take your computer to a computer technician, who can remove the infection and update your anti-virus, spyware and firewall protection.
Other tips from the CAFC include:
- Dont click on links or attachments in e-mails sent to you by someone you dont know
- Turn on your browsers pop-up blocking feature
- Never download anti-virus software from a pop-up or link sent to you in an e-mail
If you receive a ransomware message, contact the Canadian Anti Fraud Centre (1-888-495-8501) to report it: http://www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca/.