Fake Tech Support: How to Avoid Being Scammed

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We received a call from one of our customers after they received a suspicious call.  

The suspicious caller claimed to be a Microsoft Tech Support Representative that was notified that the customer’s computer was in need of updating. “Initially, the caller sounded convincing,” our customer told us. The ‘tech support’ caller was able to have our customer verify a number on their computer, and in doing so, the call seemed more legitimate. After researching the topic on www.howtogeek.com we found that the scammer most likely provided our customer with a CLSID, “a globally unique identifier found in the Windows registry” according to How to Geek. Essentially, the number that the scammer had ‘verified’ with our customer was a number that would be found on any Windows operating system and was not unique to his specific computer; the scammers use this trick to appear legitimate by ‘verifying’ this number.  However, after the call progressed, it became clearer that the caller was a scammer.

The caller wanted to access their computer remotely. This is when our customer became skeptical. After ending the call, our customer called us immediately to see what we thought. We told him that his instincts were right and that the caller was attempting to scam him. “Maybe I know more about computers than I thought I knew,” our customer joked.

Microsoft’s website says, “You will never receive a legitimate call from Microsoft or our partners to charge you for computer fixes.”

Here are tips directly from Microsoft’s website on avoiding scams:

A scammer will try to:

  • Trick you into installing malicious software that could capture sensitive data, such as online banking user names and passwords. They might also then charge you to remove this software.
  • Take control of your computer remotely and adjust settings to leave your computer vulnerable.
  • Request credit card information so they can bill you for phony services.
  • Direct you to fraudulent websites and ask you to enter credit card and other personal or financial information there.

Microsoft will never make calls to solicit computer repair or support; and they certainly would never ask for payment.

Here are some of the organizations that cybercriminals claim to be from:

  • Windows Helpdesk
  • Windows Service Center
  • Microsoft Tech Support
  • Microsoft Support
  • Windows Technical Department Support Group
  • Microsoft Research and Development Team (Microsoft R & D Team)
  • How to protect yourself from telephone tech support scams

If someone claiming to be from Microsoft tech support calls you:

  • Do not purchase any software or services.
  • Ask if there is a fee or subscription associated with the "service." If there is, hang up.
  • Never give control of your computer to a third party unless you can confirm that it is a legitimate representative of a computer support team with whom you are already a customer.
  • Take the caller's information down and immediately report it to your local authorities.
  • Never provide your credit card or financial information to someone claiming to be from Microsoft tech support.
  • What to do if you already gave information to a tech support person

If you think that you might have downloaded malware from a phone tech support scam website or allowed a cybercriminal to access your computer, take these steps:

  • Change your computer's password, change the password on your main email account, and change the password for any financial accounts, especially your bank and credit card.
  • Scan your computer with the Microsoft Safety Scanner to find out if you have malware installed on your computer.
  • Install Microsoft Security Essentials. (Microsoft Security Essentials is a free program. If someone calls you to install this product and then charge you for it, this is also a scam.)

 

Here is a great story about some computer pros that were called by a scammer. See the fun that they had…

http://www.howtogeek.com/180514/the-%E2%80%9Ctech-support%E2%80%9D-scammers-called-htg-so-we-had-fun-with-them/

Posted on February 21, 2014 and filed under Computer Security.