My wife recently had a call from a company called Windows PC Support, claiming she had a virus on her computer. She responded with “My husband deals with the computers”, at which point they said they would phone back. A few days later I got the call, again explaining that their tech support had informed him there was a virus on my Windows PC. At the time I thought this was entertaining and kept him on the phone for 10-15 minutes. When I told him I had Linux machines and there were no Windows machines in the house he got quite aggressive. He accused me of wasting his time if I didn’t have any Windows machines, at which point I told him it was a scam and requested he not phone again.
After the call I began to think I knew quite a few people that could fall for this scam. Researching the scams I learned there where quite a few variations to it, but the basics are still the same.
- They phone pretending to be a company and imply (or sometimes state) they are part of Microsoft.
- They state there is a virus or problem with your computer.
- They get you to check your event viewer and one of the event logs (usually the application log). Its normal for this to contain errors, but they make it out that this is very serious and they can fix it.
- They get you to visit a website, at which point they take over your computer and do one or more of the following.
- Install some anti-virus software and charge you a fortune for it
- Install software which allows them to obtain usernames and passwords to sensitive accounts, such as banks.
- Install a virus which allows them to freely connect to your pc at a later date.
- Use your computer for other malicious activities.
There are various articles and website about these scams, some say you should record the conversation or string them along to increase their phone bill. This is fine for those who are computer savvy. But my concern is for those that don’t really know much about computers, the longer they stay on the phone the more likely they may fall for it. Especially if they are experiencing problems with their computer.
My advice is to simply state you know it’s a scam and request they don’t phone you again. If you are reading this, spend a moment to think about who you think would fall for this and let them know this simple advice. These scams are on the increase recently so let’s make sure they don’t succeed.
If you are more aware of these calls and do get the name of the company, you could report the scam on the Consumer Direct site here
There are a number of articles on this in the guardian, links are below if you want to read more:-