Microsoft: Don't Be Tricked by Fake PC Support Phone Calls

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News Posted: Fri, Jun 17 2011 11:35 AM

Microsoft on Thrusday warned that scammers are now phoning home -- your home -- as one more way to get a fool to part with his money. The scam involves cybercriminals posing as security engineers calling people at home to tell them their PCs could be at risk for malware and offering free security checks, all while claiming to represent legitimate companies. It's a simple scam, and according to Microsoft, the ones who fall for it in English-language markets typically lose $875.

This isn't an entirely new scam, but one that is growing in popularity. Microsoft surveyed 7,000 computer users in the U.K., Ireland, U.S., and Canada, and of those surveyed, 15 percent said they had received a call from scammers. Out of those who received a call, 22 percent -- or 3 percent of the total survey sample -- admitted to being deceived into following the scammers' instructions. Victims permitted remote access to their PCs, downloaded malware-infested software, forked over credit card details, and made purchases.

"The security of software is improving all the time, but at the same time we are seeing cybercriminals increasingly turn to tactics of deception to trick people in order to steal from them," said Richard Saunders, director of International Public and Analyst Relations at Microsoft. "Criminals have proved once again that their ability to innovate new scams is matched by their ruthless pursuit of our money."

Some interesting numbers associated with Microsoft's report:

  • 79 percent of those deceived said they suffered some sort of financial loss
  • 53 percent said they suffered subsequent computer problems
  • While the overall average amount of money stolen was $875, Canadians forked over $1,560 on average
  • The average cost of repairing damage caused to computers by scammers was $1,730 ($4,800 in the U.S.)
  • 67 percent of those who lost money were able to recover, on average, 42 percent of it

Given the success rate and the average amount of money lost, this is a scam that is likely to become more prominent. Like every other scam, common sense applies. Microsoft warns to "be suspicious of unsolicited calls related to a security problem, even if they claim to represent a respected company," and to "never provide personal information, such as credit card or bank details, to an unsolicited caller," among other tips.

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Inspector replied on Fri, Jun 17 2011 12:40 PM

If domo called me, he can have everything he wants! :D

I never trust any telemarketer :P

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Social engineering at its finest moments.

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3vi1 replied on Fri, Jun 17 2011 4:08 PM

What part of "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" don't you understand?

++++++++++++[>++++>+++++++++>+++>+<<<<-]>+++.>++++++++++.-------------.+++.>---.>--.

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Manduh replied on Fri, Jun 17 2011 9:37 PM

That actually happened to my mother.... oh the joys. It was about $29.99 that she paid to some bogus company over the phone, they remote assisted her and installed some crap on her PC. It was an easy fix for the PC but for the credit card OH MY. I told her to call her credit card company immediately and good thing she did because unfortunately they triple billed her a few hours apart (increasing the amounts by a couple dollars each time) and I have a feeling if she didn't call they would have kept doing it. She had the card cancelled and replaced (they also reversed all of the funds). She isn't the brightest person, that's for sure but that was the first time she did something like that, and it has been her last.

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rrplay replied on Fri, Jun 17 2011 9:57 PM

good one 3vi1 lol my roadbike can sure spit some gravel esp with the cyclocross threads.Funny,that my local Best Buy is a blk from the major bike path where I live.Used to stop in during the days of Vista [which I somehow skipped],checked out some laptops [esp ones with Nvidia gpu's] only to mention that I would hose Vista and install Linux.Good times I say ! Clean bathrooms ! Free water and more !

Thanks 3vi1

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rrplay replied on Fri, Jun 17 2011 10:04 PM

oh hey Manduh sorry to hear about your mom's fiasco . Esp with the credit card .that can be quite the royal pita. Fortunately she has you to watch her back with this stuff,and keep her out of harms way.

in the meantime how many folks actually admit with some of these surveys that they were scammed ? so it could be possible that the results may be a bit skewed and actually a bit higher.

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Manduh replied on Fri, Jun 17 2011 10:13 PM

Very true rrplay, most people probably would feel embarrassed about it and wouldn't admit to it. I know that if it happened to me the only place I'd admit it to would be my cc company. :S Thank goodness I'm smarter than that lol (or maybe just extremely paranoid, I don't even own a CC haha)

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AKwyn replied on Sat, Jun 18 2011 4:34 AM

@Manduh. Sorry to hear, not every person is the smartest in the world, or the brightest. I'm just glad that they were able to reverse the funds before any permanent damage was done, scams can be a pain.

It seems like only the smartest and brightest people manage to avoid these scams but there should be something done to put a stop to these scams. I know that you can educate people on these scams but it seems like they're not learning as they're always getting scammed.

 

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@Manduh

No, I think it's wise to do without CC. The closest I come to it is debit cards, and those only because they're handy.

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I know the feeling Manduh I do have credit cards and I personally will not talk to them if they call me. I say I will call them back to discuss whatever it is they need. I almost feel as if we need a better caller ID system with security certificates that show up on your phone to prove the caller is the real deal. Similar to the SSL system on the internet.

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