In the last 24 hours I got 2 calls describing the same phone scam. So it seems like this area might have been targeted again. This scam was played about a year ago but then we heard no instances of it in a long time. Here’s how they try to scam people:
- They pretends to be from Microsoft or some official sounding business.
- They tell the victim that they detected that he/she has virus on the computer. Or that the computer is running slow (which is very common issue so they rarely go wrong with it).
- They talk the victim into letting them take control of the computer
- They do some hocus-pocus and possibly download something that “shows” that the computer is full of problems and viruses.
- They might tell that the current protection the victim has is no good, or not compatible with the machine (even though it had been running just fine).
- They say that in order to correct these problems the victim needs to sign up for a subscription and download software for a ridiculous price (last one was quoted $160/year)
- If the victim complains that’s too much then “kindly” the manager allows the victim to have for much less (eg: for $40).
- If the victim asks too many questions or balks at them then they simply hang up and go onto the next victim.
In all cases that I’ve examined personally, the computer was working fine, had no viruses whatsoever. So their diagnostic is not even remotely correct. Eg: they have indicated some innocent cookies as “dangerous”.
The things to keep in mind is when getting this, or similar calls are:
- Nobody, especially Microsoft knows what’s on your computer and whether it’s slow or not, except you and those who work on the computer. No reputable business would dare collecting such information because of legal liabilities.
- Do not give out any personal information to a caller unless you know exactly who is calling and you have done business with.
- Always stick to the rule: “if it’s not written it’s not true”. Ask them for website and other references that you can look them up by. Don’t give out your email or physical address.
- Don’t buy anything over the phone from unsolicited callers, unless you checked them out thoroughly. Especially do not give out credit card information, that can be abused very easily.
Fortunately, most people realize that scam somewhere along the time but since now you know about it you can save time by hanging up on them as soon as they start out on their pitch.
The local news channel, Fox59, found this article too and did a short, 2 minute clip on their “Consumer Alert” segment. The clip aired on Jul 22, 2012. Computer Wizard was interviewed and featured in this clip.
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