PC Workshop are examining what information has been compromised following a telephone call from a so called “Microsoft Security Expert” who smooth talked a customer into allowing him access to their laptop so he could “check” the security etc. He then charged £60 for the privilege!
Cyber-criminals don’t just send fraudulent email messages and set up fake websites. They also call you on the telephone and claim to be from Microsoft. They might offer to help solve your computer problems or sell you a software license. Once they have access to your computer, they can do the following:
Trick you into installing malicious software that could capture sensitive data, such as online banking user names and passwords. They might also then charge you to remove this software.
Take control of your computer remotely and adjust settings to leave your computer vulnerable.
Request credit card information so they can bill you for phony services.
Direct you to fraudulent websites and ask you to enter credit card and other personal or financial information there.
Neither Microsoft nor their partners make unsolicited phone calls (also known as cold calls) to charge you for computer security or software fixes.
This lady had little personal data held on her laptop but felt ill at ease over her security measures. We ran several scans using various security packages to check for malware, viruses and trojans on her DELL Laptop and found some issues which we removed / cleansed and then installed an up to date security package.
This type of work is more time consuming than visually apparent, and lady was more than a little satisfied that her laptop and information was under her control and not in the hands of some distant fraudster.
PC Workshop has itself been the recipient of these calls on several occasions but the call has shall we say been “short lived” but it is really easy to fall for this official sounding thief!
If you receive a phone call from a security ‘expert’ offering to fix your PC – it’s a scam, as Microsoft has nothing to do with it.
Microsoft phone scam: how it works
Scammer calls you, and asks for you by name which gives an air if familiarity. They say they are a computer security expert from Microsoft (or another legitimate tech company). The ‘security expert’ is plausible and polite, but officious. They say that your PC or laptop has been infected with malware, and that they can help you solve the problem. What happens now depends on the particular strain of scam with which you have been targeted.
Some crooks will ask you to give them remote access to your PC or laptop, and then use the access to harness your personal data. Others get you to download malware that will do that task for them. A more straightforward scam is to simply ask for money in return for a lifetime of ‘protection’ from the malware they pretend is on your machine.
Here’s the important part: no legitimate IT security professional is ever going to call you in this way. For one thing, they can’t tell that your PC is infected. They’ve got your name from the phone book, or any one of the thousands of marketing lists on which your details probably reside. They know nothing about your home computing set up.
Basically, somebody is sitting in a room calling number after number hoping to find a victim. It’s not personal, but it is ultimately dangerous to your financial and technological health.
Microsoft phone scam: what to do if you are called
1. Number one: put the phone down. Get rid of the caller and move on with your life. It is not a legitimate call.
2. During your conversation, don’t provide any personal information. This is a good rule for any unsolicited call. And certainly never hand over your credit card or bank details. Just don’t do it.
3. If you’ve got this far, we can only reiterate point number 1: get off the phone. But whatever you do don’t allow a stranger to guide you to a certain webpage, or instruct you to change a setting on your PC or download software.
4. If possible get the caller’s details. You should certainly report any instance of this scam to the police.
5. Finally, change any passwords and usernames that could plausibly have been compromised, and run a scan with up-to-date security software. Then ensure that your firewall and antivirus are up to date and protecting your PC.
Microsoft phone scam: What to do if you have been a victim
Firstly don’t consider yourself gullible, these people are professional at this scam and are very convincing.
This could happen to anyone (and does).
You need to change all the personal data that you can . As much as you might like to you can’t change your date of birth, and changing your name and address seems extreme.
But you can change all your passwords and usernames, starting with your main email account and any bank and credit card logins. Also, contact your bank to ask them to be on the look out for anything suspicious.
Again, use up-to-date security software to scan and cleanse your PC, and if the scammer did get you to do something to your PC using System Restore to roll back the settings is always a good idea. And tell the police. If you have lost money, it’s possible your credit card company or contents insurance will cover the loss.
If you do encounter these fraudsters and would like PC Workshop to check your computer or laptop please ring us on 01925 713359