Scam: Phone Calls Pretending to be From Microsoft
Posted on: July 21st, 2011
In the last couple of days we had a strange number: 804-466-9633 calling our phone several times but never leave a message. I looked it up and it turned out to be number used by scammers. Most of the write-ups mentioned that they pretend to be calling from Microsoft and tell the victims that they noticed that the victim’s computer has contracted some viruses. Then they proceed to persuading the victim to connect his computer to the scammers using the Remote Desktop Connection feature in Windows.
If the victim falls for that then they proceed further to show him the “infections” which, based on a case that I was directly involved, are regular, legitimate system files. But most regular computer users never see those.
Then the scammer will try to sell their “solution” which is some kind of shabby imitation of an antivirus software, and does no good at all.
The interesting thing about this scam that the perpetrators seem to gather some personal information and cleverly present other information that are usually guesses or things that can be easily found out once they connect to the computer. This is meant to establish some kind of credibility.
This scam preys upon the fact that the average user doesn’t know what others can or cannot know about their computers. So here are some pointers:
- Microsoft, or any kind of reputable company is very observant of privacy practices. Knowing what’s running on your computer would definitely a big time breach of several privacy laws and they could be sued for that. So you’ll never get a call from the real Microsoft about any software that’s running on your machine. Unless you registered a software with them and they might do a follow up with you. But definitely never, ever about viruses on your machine.
- When you visit websites your computer does send certain pieces of information to the sites visited but these are not adequate to identify your computer, address or any kind of really personal information. The most they can figure out is what city you are located at, what operating system you are running on your machine and what kind of browser you are using. That’s not much and is very generic.
So it’s safe to assume that if someone claims that he knows what’s running on your computer, or if it’s infected then it’s a lie and he/she will try to scam you.
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