You receive a call claiming to be from a trusted vendor, claiming they know of some serious issue with your computer that needs immediate attention. The caller asks for remote access to your computer to fix the issue, and asks for payment.
These calls are scams-hang up. If you are too polite to hang up, ask the scammer to call your tech support department, (that’s us! (925) 283-5666), to setup a contract for service.
Should you allow the scammer/criminal access to your computer, or give them your personal information, at best you will have wasted several hundred dollars. At worst, your bank accounts will be drained, your identity will be stolen, your credit will be ruined for several months to several years, your files will be irretrievably encrypted requiring a ransom payment of several hundred dollars, your email and address book will be hacked, and your computer will require several hundred dollars of service to repair.
The Scam-A Phone Call Claiming to be from a Trusted Vendor A dangerous scam is gaining popularity. Here’s how it goes, and what you should do to protect yourself.
You receive a call claiming to be from a trusted vendor, claiming they know of some serious issue with your computer that needs immediate attention.
The caller will usually ask for remote access to your computer to show you the issue, and then offer to fix the issue for a fee.
The caller may even have information about you or your computer, such as serial number, purchase date, etc., This information, is designed to fool you into thinking that the caller is really from a trusted vendor.
If you give the caller remote access to your computer, they will “show you the problem”, often by running a test on some scam website, installing some scam software that reports hundreds, or thousands of errors, or by going into the normally-hidden areas of your computer and showing you alerts that look serious.
To demonstrate how benign unseen alerts can be used to manipulate you, here’s a screenshot from my own computer. Notice that there are over 6,000 “problems”. None of these “problems” require any attention, but most people would think their computer needs immediate attention if they saw this.
How To Protect Yourself
Do not fall for this confidence game scam. These people are lying!
Ask them to remove your number from their database, and then hang up. If you’re too polite to hang up, refer to the steps on the next page.
While they may have correct information about you or your computer, they are still criminals running a con. We believe that the client databases of some vendors have been hacked, and that is why they may have your purchase details, etc.
Microsoft has publicly stated that they do not make solicitation phone calls, https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/security/online-privacy/avoid-phone-scams.aspx, and no vendor that we know of does either. Of course this assumes that the legitimate vendor even knows your phone number, or knows what’s going on with your computer (highly unlikely).
Do not talk to them, and do not give them access to your computer or your personal information, such as credit card number, bank account number, etc.
Should you allow the scammer/criminal access to your computer, or give them personal information, you can expect some or all of the things below to occur. We can’t be more specific because it all depends upon what actions the criminal chooses to take once they have access to your information/computer. This list is not exhaustive.
- You will have wasted several hundred dollars
- Your bank & investment accounts may be drained
- Your identity may be stolen:
- The criminals may open credit accounts in your name
- They may change your mailing address
- They may file false tax returns in your name, and collect the refunds at the your new mailing address, leaving you to deal with the IRS
- Your credit may be ruined for several months to several years, requiring police reports, lots of forms to filled out, hours of time lost, and worst-having to try to prove you’re innocent to creditors
- Your files may be irretrievably encrypted requiring a ransom payment of several hundred dollars, and you MAY get your files back
- Your email and address book may be hacked. Your contacts may receive spam emails from your email account. And may get scammed into sending money to the criminals
- Your computer may be infected with a virus and cost several hundred dollars to repair
We have seen all of these things happen! Don’t be a victim.
To download this article, plus a handy tip sheet, please click the link below
How-To-Protect-Yourself-From-Scam-Phone-Calls.pdf (204 downloads)