Amidst the overload of news on the War on Iraq, you may have missed a significant consumer warning about one of the latest and certainly most costly scams going around online -- a technique known as Internet Dumping. A virus, once loaded on your machine, rings up $5/minute 1900 phone sex lines using your modem once you have logged off, and the first you know about it is when you get a bill from your phone company.
We know about the painful effects of this process, as two of our staff have been recent victims, with hundreds of dollars of calls being registered at times like 5.00am on a Monday morning. With anti-virus software installed, the fact these little nasties can still get through is a source of real concern.
To safeguard yourself, install a free anti-spyware program like Ad-Aware from Lavasoft (http://www.lavasoftusa.com/software/
) to remove any sleeping programs of this type, and ensure you only allow for the installation on programs on your web browser that you really trust - when in doubt, click 'No'.
The other important thing to do is call your carrier (Telstra is 13 2200) and request the disconnection of 1900 premium services - if you want to enter competitions, you can now do it more cheaply via SMS in almost all cases. Another technique is to unplug your modem from the wall when you are not using it (it is also a good idea to reduce the risk of getting your computer fried in an electrical storm).