The Old Windows Tech Support Scam Is Back With A Slight Tweak. Don’t Get Caught Out.
Have you ever had a call from a dodgy sounding bloke in a busy call centre claiming to be from Microsoft? Chances are that you or someone you know has had that ‘windows tech support’ scam call where the caller informs you that your PC has errors, malicious code or a potentially fatal virus.
It’s a scam that’s been around for years which suggests that these thieving scumbags are still having a good amount of success. Now though, it seems that the famed windows tech support scam has evolved.
Yesterday i received a call from a guy with a heavy Indian accent, he claimed he was from Telstra (Australia’s largest phone and internet provider) and my computer was infected with a malicious code. Apparently, every-time that i visited a website i was vulnerable to being hacked because of this code and i needed his help to remove it to make my internet browsing and computer safe again.
Of course, i knew that this was an obvious scam but i played along with the guy a little.
He told me that we needed to go through a few checks to see where the errors were. “Press the Windows and R key together” he said. This opens up a Windows command box, he then asked me to type ‘eventvwr’ into the box, click ok and open the event viewer option.
This opens up another box showing information on events where you will always see a number of warnings or errors. This is shown to you by the scammer to make you think that there are indeed errors on your PC that need to be fixed.
He asked me how many errors i could see, i said it was showing over 400 , which it was, he then told me that it sounded like i had a pretty serious problem but we just needed to check one more thing.
“Press the Windows and R key again then type in msconfig”, he said. Which is the Windows system configuration utility.
Again i was asked to count, this time it was how many stopped applications that i could see, of course there were a quite few stopped as there always are, so i told him that after scrolling down i could see quite a few that had stopped.
He told me not to worry, these errors can be fixed but i would need to download a free program called Teamviewer, which is a widely used, reputable and legitimate program, so that he could gain remote access to my computer and fix all of these errors for me.
At this point i had seen and heard enough, i knew that as soon as i gave him access he could lock me out of my computer and demand money from me, delete files or a whole host of other damage that i wouldn’t want.
I said to him that i was glad he could help me out but i needed to ask for his Telstra employee ID number, he stuttered a little and then rattled off some random figure, i told him I’d call back shortly and ask for him by name and number and predictably, he hung up.
Of course, there was no such ID number. The old windows tech scam has now been slightly tweaked to become the ISP tech support scam. Now, most of us would pick this scam out from the first couple of seconds of the conversation, but the slightly less tech savvy like my or your grandmother, perhaps, might not be so clued up.
Any representative of Telstra, Verizon, BT, or any big ISP or telephone provider should have an ID number, if you receive a call like this and you’re not sure about it you can always hang up and call your provider yourself to ask about any such problem. You can also request an unlisted or silent telephone number to help stop calls like this from taking place.
In 2014 Microsoft sued a number of companies for falsely claiming to be affiliated with the company. According to the lawsuit, this ‘windows tech support scam’ nets around 1.5 billion dollars per year and affects just over 3 million people in America alone!
One of the most effective ways of making a good dent in the scammers pocket is to raise awareness, spread the message and help to stop others from falling into the trap. Check out Scambusters.org and stay up to date on the newest scams.
Here’s a video someone uploaded to YouTube of a windows tech support scam in action, he strings them along for a while but watch what happens at the end when they don’t get their way!!