Calls about your computer's performance or security
Keywords: fraud, theft, scam, compromised, Microsoft, Windows, Certified, computer access, information theft, credit card fraud, annual service contract, error messages, virus, hacker, intrusion
Your phone rings and someone identifies themselves as a Microsoft Windows Certified individual tells you they have received messages from your computer that there is a serious problem. They can help you with the problem but they first need remote access to your computer. From there they can analyze the problem and fix it for a fee or sign you up for an annual support subscription. You may become concerned that the background sounds like a "call center" just like other calls you receive unexpectedly.
You're told your computer is at serious risk and immediate action is required and they are ready to help you. The sense of urgency is high for you to act.
But don't reach for your credit card. You were a mark for information and financial theft. If you listened to the background noise, the caller was in a call center "boiler room" calling people about the same thing. The caller and background voices strongly suggest an off shore connection but location could not be verified as being from any particular country or organization.
What's behind this scam?
- The idea your computer sent them notices is bogus.
- While they say messages were received from your computer they cannot tell you any specifics of the message such as the model, make, Operating System, or configuration (amount of disk, memory, external disks, external devices, etc.). Discussing that is not possible since they have no information and want to obtain access to your computer.
- They will want you to use one of some commonly used software tools and provide you with a link, such as 123Rescue.com which downloads software into your computer. They provide you a six digit number and need you enter the number into your computer. That essentially has put them at your keyboard in front of your monitor... they now have control. They can download all your personal files, financial records, pictures, everything you have and you may not understand anything that is happening. 123Rescue.com's web site cautions users "Remember, only accept support from individuals and organizations you trust." The caller never identifies their organization but denies they are with Microsoft. If you have the 6 digit PIN provided by the caller, file a complaint with 123Rescue.com.
- In the end they may tell you everything is now fixed and charge your credit card for the theft of your information plus any number of other transactions.
- Remember the 6 digit number you are given for 123Rescue.com You can use that to file an abuse complaint with the company regarding frudulant attempts to gain access.
- Never give your credit card or bank information out to someone YOU DID NOT CALL.
- If you are called by someone representing one of your financial providers, call that company and ask for verification. Chances are you'll be asked for the name multiple times. Always look-up a published number for the company on your card or statement from them.
- Any bank, credit card company, or financial company that calls YOU and has to ask for YOUR account number, your name, Date of Birth or Social Security number is a potential fraud.
The company should have all this information available to them in whole or part for any legitimate representative of the company who has a need to know.
- Microsoft does not send personalized e-mails or make customer phone calls.
- Your computer does not send messages to third parties without your prior permission (such as sending information to Microsoft or other software companies) due to privacy acts.
- Understand that hanging up on a crook is your best protection before giving anything out.
- Ask the caller if they ever thought about getting an honest job? Expect a quick hang-up.