This week I have decided to give you a brief overview of several scams that are currently going around. Tech-support scams are scams in which the “bad guys” pose as computer technicians from various legitimate companies such as Microsoft, Dell, Symantec, etc. These scams can involve telephone calls or “pop-up” windows on your computer. According to David Finn, the executive director of Microsoft’s Digital Crime Unit, tech support scams are the “single largest consumer fraud perpetrated in America today.” They victimize an estimated 3.3 million people and rake in $1.5 billion annually. “This translates to a victim nearly every 10 seconds, with an average loss of $454 per consumer,” according to Finn.
Dell Support Scam:
A relatively new scam targeting Dell computer owners is notable because the criminals behind it are using private Dell customer details to trick their marks into thinking the calls are coming from authorized Dell personnel.
The caller convinces the unsuspecting person they are legitimate by providing information such as your computer model number, serial number, service tag, and most notably the last item that the person had called Dell tech support about. It seems to me that the only way the criminal could have this information is from a Dell security breach, even though Dell hasn’t admitted this yet.
Dell spokesman David Frink said the company has “no indication that customer information used in the scams reported recently were obtained through an external attack,” but he declined to respond to direct questions about whether the company had ruled out an insider attack, such as a current or previous channel partner that got hacked or illegally sold Dell customer information.
We recommend that any calls you get from Dell Technical Support that you didn’t initiate yourself should be viewed with healthy skepticism, even if they have all of the correct information about you and your computer.
Fake Norton Antivirus Warning:
Fraudulent tech support companies are notorious for using scare tactics to lure in unsuspecting computer users. One of the most current going around is a fake pop-up windows that looks almost exactly like it comes from Symantec’s flagship product, Norton Antivirus.
The alert message is displayed via a web page and urges users to call for support immediately saying: “System Critically Infected. If you are not able to click on this button, immediately contact Support toll Free Helpline 1-855-637-1900”. Of course this screen is completely fake, but combined with an alarming audio message playing in the background, it may be enough to dupe some users. When you call this number, you are instructed to go to fastsupport.com and allow a “technician” to take remote control of your computer.
After finishing a “diagnostic” in a record 5 minutes, the technician proceeds to the sales part of his script. A couple of different support plans are offered:
- A one-time fix and installation of Norton for $199.
- A one year warranty with Norton for $249.
Currently, Norton Security Deluxe (Norton’s latest antivirus offering) is available direct from Symantec for $49.99 per year. The pay-pal payment portal for the scammer shows that the company is Silurian Tech Support, Inc. A quick background review of this company revealed some very interesting details including the fact that they were an official member of the Symantec Partner Program.
Just about any “warning” that is displayed via a webpage is most likely a fake.
Microsoft Tech Support Scam:
This scam is so widespread right now that I wrote about it in a separate post several weeks ago. You can read it here, http://kellycomputers.com/microsoft-support-scam. Basically, your phone rings and someone with a heavy Indian accent identifies themselves as a Microsoft Support Technician. They then precede to tell you that they have been monitoring your computer and have found several problems that they offer to fix for you. If you agree you are directed to a website that allows the “technician” to take remote control of your computer. They then show you several Microsoft log files on your computer and point out several “errors” that need to be fixed immediately, which they will be glad to take care of for you, for a price. As I said in the full post, Microsoft Tech people will never, ever call you out of the blue.
Our advice if you receive any of the above calls is to just hang up and not even engage the person. If you get a “pop-up” window telling you your computer is corrupt, I would suggest just closing the windows by using the “X” in the top, right corner of the windows (don’t click any buttons, such as “Ok” or “Close”) and then call a reputable tech to take a look at your computer just to make sure.