Cyber Security Awareness Month: Stay on the Alert for Technical Support Scams

In August, our blog featured a story about one of the most lucrative cybercriminal scams of the past year. This con game involves fraudulent phone calls from cybercriminals posing as Microsoft tech support representatives. A fraudulent tech support representative calls to alert you that your computer has a virus. The bogus caller then explains that if you will allow remote access to your computer, the Microsoft tech support team can quickly “fix” the virus problem for you. The combination of the phone call supposedly from Microsoft and the request for remote access to your computer seems to catch people off-guard.

Technical Support ScamsOur warning to you is if you provide the caller with remote access to your computer, an array of crimes can occur ranging from the theft of your personal data, passwords, bank accounts and PIN number to installing a virus and selling you the services to repair your computer. This might sound like a far-fetched scam, but countless people have fallen victim to this crime. Over several years, millions of dollars have been lost to cybercriminals who persist with this con game.

If this sounds unbelievable, read on!

Last month one of our franchise owners was contacted at home by a fraudulent Microsoft tech support representative. Here’s how the conversation played out when he received a phone call from the bogus Windows Service Department (WSD):

WSD, “Do you have a computer on?”

Franchisee, “Yes.”

WSD, “Are you in front of it.”

Franchisee, “Yes.”

WSD, “You see there is a <Ctrl> key at bottom left corner of your keyboard?”

Franchisee, “Yes.”

WSD, “You see right next to it, there is a “Window” key?”

Franchisee, “Yes.”

WSD, “Now press that “Window” key and “R” keys”

Franchisee, “Ok.”

WSD, “Now enter this….”

Franchisee cuts in, “So how do you know my phone number?”

WSD, “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 by Microsoft. Are you working for Microsoft? Plus, I never knew error messages from my computer will send my phone number out!”

WSD, “Microsoft doesn’t fix your computer.”

Franchisee, “Then what is your company?”

WSD, “We are Windows Service Department.”

Franchisee, “I heard that, but what is the company that your department is under?”

WSD, “We’re here to fix your computer.”

Franchisee, “I will not allow anyone to have remote access to my computer!”

Click. Hang up.

Our franchisee 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 Computer Troubleshooters.

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!

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