A blog post in August featured one of the most lucrative cybercriminal scams of the past year. This con involves fraudulent phone calls from cybercriminals posing as representatives from Microsoft tech support. A fake tech support representative places a call to home owners to alert them that your computer has any virus, and has alerted Microsoft to the issue. The fake tech support representative then tries to convince the home owner to allow them remote access of the computer so they can “fix” the issue. The combination of the phone call allegedly from Microsoft along with the request for remote access to the computer catches many people off-guard and they allow them to access their computer.
Our warning to all consumers should you receive a call like this; is to NOT provide them remote access to your computer. This access could result in a range of crimes including theft of your personal information, bank account details and PIN numbers to installing a virus and selling you the services repair your computer. This may sound like any far-fetched scam, but countless individuals have fallen victim to these phone calls. Over several years, millions of dollars have been lost to cybercriminals who use this scam.
If you can’t believe that this is actually going on, please continue reading!
Last month one of our franchise owners was contacted at home by a fake Microsoft tech support representative. Here’s how the conversation went with the fake Microsoft tech support representative (Support):
Support, “Do you have a computer on?”
Support, “Are you in front of it.”
Support, “You see there is a <Ctrl> key at bottom left corner of your keyboard?”
Support, “You see right next to it, there is a “Window” key?”
Support, “Now press that “Window” key and “R” keys”
Support, “Now enter this….”
Franchisee cuts in, “So how do you know my phone number?”
Support, “Your computer sent us error information. We are then contacted to fix it, because we are your Windows manufacturer provider.”
Franchisee, “But Windows is made my Microsoft. Are you working for Microsoft? Plus, I never knew error messages from my computer will send my phone number out!”
Support, “Microsoft doesn’t fix your computer.”
Franchisee, “Then what is your company?”
Support, “We are Windows Service Department.”
Franchisee, “I heard that, but what is the company that your department is under?”
Support, “We’re here to fix your computer.”
Franchisee, “I will not allow anyone to have remote access to my computer!”
Click. Hang up.
Our franchise owner added, “The caller was unbelievably rude, then he simply hung up the phone on me. I’m sure he was immediately making another phone call to someone else running that same scam. After enough phone calls, he must eventually gain access to someone’s computer. Otherwise, why would they continue to operate this scam?”
We are sharing this story to shed light on how easy it is to be caught off-guard. We encourage you to put your home phone number on the National Do Not Call Registry. If you do receive one of these suspicious phone calls, contact Microsoft and report the call. If you believe that your computer is infected with a virus, contact your local Geeks On Call.
October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month. Stop. Think. Connect. It’s a good policy. We encourage you, your family and your business to be vigilant against cybercriminals throughout the year. Stay safe!