We’re not just fighting spam emails anymore, scammers are calling our phones too. The fact that someone claims to be calling from a legitimate company does not mean that they are actually a representative of that company, nor does it confirm that their intentions are pure.
We have seen a second round of these phone scammers flood our homes and it is causing serious problems. Often, they start by catching you off guard, tricking you into thinking your computer has been hacked or displaying symptoms of a malicious virus. It’s scary to think that your confidential data is insecure, including your passwords, online banking details, social media accounts, credit cards, and customer details. This is where they take you: They claim that they are helping to protect your data.
These callers are aggressive and claim to be from well-known, reputable organizations:
Windows Service Center
Microsoft technical support
Microsoft Certified Technician Team
Windows Technical Support Group
Microsoft research and development team (Microsoft research and development team)
Brand name computer manufacturers such as “Dell”
Branded security companies such as “Symantec” and “McAfee”
To check your computer for errors, they ask you to perform a variety of tasks:
They direct you to look through your computer and read information that could lead to a ‘diagnosis’. They often lead you to a list of low-level, harmless bug logs.
They direct you to fraudulent websites that could load spyware on your machine.
They want you to give them remote access to your computer, so they can do it for you.
They then ask for your credit card information so they can bill you for the bogus services they provide.
There are a number of arguments to consider when you receive a call like this:
Argument # 1: Does the mentioned organization really make money by making house calls? Absolutely not! Solving your virus problems through proactive phone calls is not where a large organization like Microsoft or Dell is making money. They have bigger fish to fry; they want to sell you software and hardware.
Argument # 2: Do you really know WHICH computer has the problem? Because if they are tracking you, they should certainly know and be able to tell you the name of your computer and how you can verify it. Don’t be fooled if they know your name and other personal information, as that information is available through a variety of online resources. Just because they know you have a Windows computer is not enough validation.
Argument # 3: Will they give you their name and phone number to call back? There can be very RARE instances where Microsoft makes a call, but NEVER provide your personal information, never provide credit card information, never give them access to your computer, and never provide passwords or logins. Maybe he’s a nice guy, maybe he even wants you to talk to your manager, but prove it BEFORE you risk making a mistake … jot down your information and call their tech support, or call a tech friend. Do you think you have a virus on your computer or is this news for you? The point is, never trust unsolicited calls unless you can confirm that you are a legitimate representative of a computer support team that you are already a customer of.
Argument # 4: Ask if there is a fee or subscription with the service. If there is, it is probably a scam.
Argument # 5: Are they asking you to install their special software? Often times, the software these scammers load onto your computer is useless even though the program’s name sounds useful. And most of the time, the software is actually malware or spyware that installs itself to steal your passwords and other data after your phone call.
If you have been a victim …
These callers are certainly deceptive, and we’ve seen good friends fall for their scare tactics. If you have already been a victim, there are some important tasks you need to complete to protect yourself.
- Refuse payment: Call your credit card company and decline any and all associated costs.
- Turn off your computer: Do not bank, purchase, or transfer money online until you have verified that your computer is free of viruses and spyware.
- Remove malware and spyware: Scan your computer for malware or spyware.
- Change your passwords: Change your computer password, your email password, your financial account passwords, and others that you think may be compromised.
- Seek professional help: If you are really concerned, we strongly recommend that you contact your local technical support or even call the real reputable company that you claim to be your contact with.
The daunting part of this whole scam trend is that the number of people successfully scammed must be high enough that scammers keep trying. Otherwise, the volume of calls would not continue to increase as it has in recent years. The only way to get over it is to stay polite and be cautious. Protect your personal data as you would protect your family, your health and your life. Don’t let just anyone in and make sure your friends and family know the same.