Technical support phone scam can cost you

SCAMImagine this, you get a phone call from a technical support specialist from Microsoft who says your computer’s operating system is about to fail or has some other serious problem. Sounding concerned and helpful, the caller offers to remote in to the machine and fix the problem before you suffer serious loss of data.

Seems friendly and helpful, right? Sounds very proactive and thoughtful on Microsoft’s part, right? Well, if it all sounds a little fishy to you, you’d be right because it’s a scam that’s burning up telephones all over the country right now.

The telephone tech scam actually been going on for more than a year, but has become more active in recent weeks. Most of the heavily-accented callers (generally sounding southwest Asian or Middle Eastern) pretend to be with reputable software companies, usually masquerading as Microsoft, AVG Anti-Virus, Norton Antivirus or other highly recognized technical support staff.

Sometimes, they state that there is a minimal fee for the service andPhoto_041109_003 ask for a credit card before they can fix your problem. On other occasions, the individuals are offering remote repair, free of charge; you just have to walk through the procedures to give them access to the computer.

Once in, they can download the entire contents of your PC, including all of your web browser history, saved passwords, and so on, effectively providing them with every bit of information stored on your computer.

There are multiple methods of theft used by these cybercriminals. Some will convince you to install software to “repair a serious problem with your computer” that can then be used to capture sensitive data like banking or online password information. Once the software is loaded and begins to work, they may then convince you the computer is “infected” with some kind of virus and charge you a fee to remove what they just installed.

(Clock on the video to watch the TV interview on this subject with Gery L. Deer and Shaun Kraisman)

Another common method is to direct you to legitimate websites in order to download and install software allowing them to take control of the computer remotely, all while adjusting the system’s settings to leave it vulnerable to infiltration long after you’re off the phone.

To collect credit card information, they might also direct you to a phony website for payment, where they capture your account data and start stealing from you immediately.

The key here is diligence and common sense. According to Microsoft’s website, “Neither Microsoft nor our partners make unsolicited phone calls (also known as cold calls) to charge you for computer security or software fixes.”

Protecting yourself is relatively easy, simply hang up. Give no information to the caller and even ask for his or her contact information so you can call back at a more convenient time. Odds are, they’ll hang up before you do.

Experts at Microsoft suggests that you ask the caller if there is a fee associated with the service offered and if there is, hang up. However, our recommendation is that you hang up right away, whether it’s a free service or not. Cybercriminals can steal your data just by gaining access to your PC without your paying any money up front for the “repair” they are offering. Once they’re in, that’s the ball game.

If you have any computer problems contact GLD Enterprises Communications or another, trusted, local repair service. No one can predict when or how a computer system will fail, and you should never allow remote access to your computer by anyone you do not know.

Some computer problems simply cannot be resolved remotely. It’s always best to have your computer checked out in its natural environment – your home or office – by a qualified, well-referenced, on-site computer technician. Call us for more information. (937) 902-4857.

More Microsoft Resources: