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Internet Dialler Scams Affect Unsuspecting Victims 5 September 2005

    The Office of Fair Trading is aware of growing numbers of Manx Internet users falling victim to Internet "diallers".

    Malicious "diallers" are pieces of software that are installed onto your PC, frequently without your knowledge. They then dial premium, national or international phone numbers to connect to the Internet. The latest example of this type of scam to hit has been a dialler that connects users to a UK national rate number for the Internet, whilst users are thinking they were connecting to their usual Internet service provider. As this dialler used a UK national rate number, having premium rate call barring on your telephone line alone, is insufficient protection.

    Call charges amassed by recent victims of this dialler scam have been £65, £125 and over £300! As the dialler is indiscriminate and secretive in its nature, it has hit people who thought they were computer aware and had taken sufficient steps to protect themselves. This however, did not turn out to be the case.

    It is important that Internet users take adequate action to protect themselves from running up these unwanted call charges through the inadvertent use of diallers. Active measures that Internet users can take include:-

    • Installing software which prevents diallers from being installed on your computer.
    • Install and run regularly "spy sweeping" software which will scan your PC for spyware, adware and diallers and destroy them.
    • Take measures to block "pop-up" adverts which can harbour malicious software such as diallers, adware or spyware.
    • Consider whether the use of broadband is appropriate to your needs as diallers only affect PC's that have a dial-up modem connected to a phone line.

    Mrs Brenda Cannell MHK, Vice-Chair of the Office of Fair Trading said:

    "The sums ran up by these diallers are quite shocking! I urge all Manx residents to take the appropriate action to protect themselves when they are using the Internet and to contact their service providers if they have any further questions or concerns."

    Sarah Creighton from the Data Product Management team of Manx Telecom said:

    "This is an issue that Manx Telecom is always trying to raise awareness of through bill inserts, page 21 of the phonebook and e-mail newsletters. Anyone that goes onto the Internet should be aware of how they can protect themselves from the most common issues: viruses, diallers and spyware. Aside from this awful issue of running up a phone bill that you weren't expecting, your computer can also run a lot more slowly, or often stop altogether as a result of these problems. If you run your operating system updates on a weekly basis; have an anti-virus program, firewall, pop-up advert blocker and an ad/spyware package then it is very unlikely that you will have these issues online. It is also worth considering caution when downloading different file types - many unscrupulous 'free' music or games downloads will contain more than you had bargained for.

    It may be worthwhile speaking to your preferred software retailer. Many well known companies offer complete solution packages at prices that are very competitive when compared with the cost of repairing your system should it fail as a result of a virus or other malicious program. If you are buying a new PC ask the retailer if security solutions are included in the price. Even if you aren't willing to spend money for security software there are many free software solutions available for download over the Internet.

    For more information, including links to free downloads, please visit www.manx-telecom.com/netsecurity."

    5th September 2005

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