Monday, December 9, 2013

Scam - Beware of Phone Call from "Windows Support"

Over the past few weeks I have received several phone calls from individuals claiming to be from Microsoft, Windows Company, or Windows Support.  The Indian-accented voice addresses me by name and asks if I am the main user of my computer.  I have responded in many ways . . . getting angry, replying to them in Spanish, and lately, letting them speak for a minute and then using my handy-dandy duck call to give them a splitting headache!

Why would I be so rude to someone who is only trying to help?  That answer lies in the fact that these friendly folk are only trying to make their way into my pocketbook by way of my computer!  These dudes don't work for Microsoft, Windows, or any other legitimate company.  (Believe me, Microsoft has a hard time responding to incoming support requests, let alone having time to initiate outgoing calls!)

They start by asking how you are doing, and how well you are enjoying your computer.  They then tell you that they have scanned your computer and have discovered "viruses" on your computer that need to be removed.  To "prove" the existence of viruses, they talk you through viewing your computer's event log and count how many red and yellow-flagged item there are.  They then tell you that these items are from viruses and are responsible for slowing down your computer.  Fact is, any Windows computer in use for any length of time will log some critical errors and experience some slowdowns.  They then guide you through viewing the msconfig window.  One of the tabs will show all the processes installed on the computer from Microsoft and other software vendors.  They ask you to see how many processes are turned off, and use this a "proof" that viruses are shutting down critical computer functions.

For their final act, they talk you into viewing the "prefetch" directory, a hidden folder that is not normally viewed.  This folder contains system installation files, all with cryptic names.  They tell you that these are actual virus files and cannot be removed.  They ask you to count them . . . you will be well over 100 files before they stop you and tell you how badly "infected" your machine is!

Now that they have gained your confidence, they ask you to access a website and download a remote access program that will give them direct control to start removing the viruses.  In doing this, you will be giving them the ability to download actual malware and completely cripple your machine.  The final act is to ask for your credit card or bank account information in order to "renew" your warranty (for life!) and allow them to fix your horrible problem . . .

Today it is known as "Social Engineering" . . . but it is really just a modern-day version of the old "confidence game" . . . which is where the term "con-man" came from!

For legitimate technical support you can trust be sure to call Brad Bradford, At Your Service!