Labour MP Bill Esterson has teamed up with an internet expert from Sefton to raise awareness of the dangers of cold-calling computer scams which can leave victims thousands of pounds out of pocket.
Bill and Maghull-based Abbey Technologies Computer Services' Steve Carr are warning people to be extra vigilant after a rise in reported scams in this area.
One Maghull resident raised the issue with Bill after she was targeted.
The woman, who does not wish to be named, received a phone call from someone claiming to be from her internet provider. They told her that her PC was not working to its full capability and if she handed over hundreds of pounds, they would be able to correct the problem.
She told Bill: "My pet of 15 years was dying, that alone was such an anxious and upsetting time. I was disturbed when taking a phone call to a voice. The man on the other end told me my name and that he was ringing from my internet supplier. All correct. He then told me that I was paying a good price for a fast speed and I wasn't receiving it because my computer was full of junk.
"I was then transferred to another man. He asked me for £166. he became angry when i said I didn't have that money and he then cut me off.
"I rang my internet provider straight away and they informed me that it was a scam. The scammer was calling from an 0845 number, so I would have incurred a huge phone bill if I called them back. Then you think that I could have handed over my credit card details.
"I wanted to get my computer checked and I took advice from Steve at Abbey Technologies Computer Services. It was quite a positive experience. The service was exceptional and swift. Every question asked was fully explained and support and guidance was given.
"The whole thing was a dreadful experience, but it could have been prevented. I don't want this to happen to anyone else.
"Those hours were taken away from me when time was so precious. My pet was put to sleep only hours later.
"People need to be made aware of these scams and how not to fall victim to it."
Steve said he had seen an increase in the number of people coming to him for help after they had been targeted by similar scams.
He said: "The lady who contacted Bill had a call from a company suggesting they were a Microsoft Partner, indicating there were problems with her computer that needed addressing. After gaining remote access to her computer they display a screen which shows various errors on her computer which can be resolved for a fee. From my experience this can be anything in the range from £40 to £250.
"Generally all these companies will do to allegedly fix the problems is install freely available anti-virus software which can actually have a detrimental effect on your PC if you already have adequate anti-virus protection. They will then require you to pay via your debit or credit card which again is a risk for any future fraudulent activities.
"Unfortunately I hear about a few of these cold call incidents. The caller is very convincing and may also suggest they are calling from your internet service provider in some cases.
"The best advice is to hang up and under no circumstances allow them remote control access to your computer. If you are in any doubt whether your PC has any problems my best advice is to get it checked by a professional company.
"As well as the cold call incidents we also hear of similar scams where a customer is looking for genuine technical support from Microsoft, their email provider or their Internet Service Provider and they search for a phone number on line. Quite often there are companies who advertise their services in this area and will pay to position themselves near the top of the Google search results. Again, the best advice is to proceed with caution and if you are in any doubt whether the phone number is genuine seek professional advice."
Bill Esterson said people need to be vigilant to avoid falling for these scams.
Bill said: "It is concerning that Steve is finding more and more people here in East Sefton who are being targeted by these scams.
"More and more people are getting themselves online, young and old are now surfing the web with all the benefits that brings. But that means there are more people for these unscrupulous scammers to target.
"People need to be aware of these scams. You're better safe than sorry, so if at any time you receive a dubious phone call like the one received by my constituent, just hang up and never give out personal details to anyone who you are not 100% sure off.
"And if you have any fears that your computer may have been infected, contact one of our great local experts like Steve at Abbey Technologies Computer Services, who will give you the best advice on how to stay safe and secure online."