Scam Alert: Tech Support Phone Calls
Tamara here, with the AllClear Investigation team. Scammers will try anything to get you to fall prey to their attack. Whether it’s online, by mail, or over the phone, the experience is never a pleasurable one. It seems there is also a time where certain types of scams spike, such as the Tech Support telephone scam recently popping back up again according to this newsletter from www.securingthehuman.org, seeming to target the elderly.
How this scam works
You get a phone call from someone claiming to be from Microsoft Tech Support or other internet service provider stating they have detected a virus on your computer and they want to help you remove it.
To convince you, the scammer instructs you to open the Event Viewer window. Upon opening the Event Viewer, they lead you to take note of the yellow and red flags. Now, though they look like they would indicate a problem, they are mostly harmless, and everybody’s Event Viewer has yellow and red flags. To inexperienced or not so technically apt individuals, this looks like it could be evidence that there is malicious software installed or a problem with their system.
At this point, the scammers convince you to download a program which allows them to remotely access your computer, or direct you to a fake tech support website where you download malware disguised as a fix for your computer. One service the scammers commonly use to remotely access your computer so is Ammyy.com. (Ammyy is aware of this and has issued a warning including instructions on how to remove the program from your computer.) Once they have access to your computer, whether it’s via the remote access computer or via malware, they have access to whatever you may have stored on your computer. They will then take that information to take over bank accounts, make fraudulent charges, or other criminal activity.
After installing or accessing your system, the scammer will then ask for your credit card information to pay for the service of “cleaning up” your computer or offering anti-virus protection. Victims that have provided that information were fraudulently charged as much as hundreds of dollars for services that are offered for free.
If you have fallen prey to this scam, first contact your financial institutions and report the incident. Shut down your computer, then restart it with a program designed to detect malware, or have a trusted professional check it out.
And, it is always good to report the scam. In reporting to the Federal Trade Commission the information is entered into a database which is accessed by law enforcement authorities to assist with the investigation, hopefully leading to catching the scammers. Another place to report telephone scams are to your Attorney General’s office. Information to report would be items such as the scammer’s name, where they claim to be calling from, what type of accent the scammer has (if they have one), the telephone number, and the date and time of the call.
Microsoft, and any other internet service provider, will not make unsolicited phone calls to charge you for computer security or software fixes.