The “Tech Support” Phone Scam

Scammers pretending to be from Microsoft are using fake virus warnings to gain access to user's computers to steal credit cards and private information. This scam has existed for many, many years, but it seems to be gaining popularity, again. This is a variation on the IRS Tax Scam that I spoke of in a previous blog post.  Good Morning America has even produced a segment on this scam.  You can view their video here (Link Opens in new window).

PhoneScam

This is what a hacked website will look like

The classic example of this particular scam is that someone -usually with a foreign accent- will call you from a blocked number or even a generic phone number (they use Skype).  They will tell you that they are from Microsoft Tech Support and that they have detected a virus on your computer.  They will then have you help them connect to your computer using LogMeIn or TeamViewer.  They will take control of your computer and use fake programs to pretend to show you all the viruses on your computer.  The scammers will even point you to a fake LinkedIn profile to show he is "legit" if you raise questions.  While they are on your PC, they will help themselves to any documents or files you have stored on your desktop.  Then they will also ask you for a credit card number so they can charge you for monthly antivirus or tech support service.  Unfortunately, you are paying for them to do literally nothing.

This image is from a friend's computer after she was targeted.

This image is from a friend's computer after she was targeted.

The scammers have moved away from even calling you.  Instead, they have started hacking websites to redirect visitors to fake scam sites that look like antivirus programs. The websites will lock up your browser and prevent you from closing the fake warning boxes (you can hit ctrl+shift+esc on your Windows keyboard to bring up task manager to "End Task" on the locked up browser). Some websites will even play an audio file asking you to call a toll-free number. You can see an example of how a few of these scam websites look in the images above and to the left.

No one from Microsoft, Google, Apple, Norton, Symantec, Trend Micro or any other major companies will call a user or request that a user call them.  Always question any sort of popup or email notification about viruses or malware and contact your IT department or IT services provider if you receive a suspicious call or popup.

If you ever have questions about your security needs, please feel free to contact us!