Microsoft Phone Scam

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Recently, a customer of mine contacted me with a strange story (not so strange to me). She had received a call, on her home phone, from Microsoft claiming that her computer had a virus. She could not understand them very well because of their accent (possibly Indian) but was able to realize that they wanted her to turn on her computer. At first she seemed inclined to do so (hey, if Microsoft called me, it must be important), but then suspected that this may not be right. She asked for a supervisor, and he came on the line. She then informed them that any further information would need to be handled by her IT guy, namely me. At this point, she lost the call with them. This sneaky criminal practice is known as phone phishing (pronounced "fishing").

Phone Phishing is used by scammers to "shock" users into allowing them to gain access to the computer under the pretense that it is infected with a virus or is performing slowly. Once access is made, the scammers can install a program without the user's knowledge or consent that can either upload the user's personal information, track their keystrokes to bank sites, or collect credit card information. Anything and everything that the user may do with their computer, the scammers can get access to it.

So, how do you prevent this from happening. First, BEWARE. Microsoft will newver, repeat, NEVER, cold call people who use Windows. NEVER!! This applies to Apple as well. If you happen to receive one of these phone calls ask the caller for the name of the company, where they are located, and their phone number. Let them know that your "IT" technician will contact them to discuss the problem and get back to them. Hang up the phone and then either contact your "IT" guy (hopefully me) or contact IC3 or the local FBI office.

In my customers case, she was fortunate to have a goto person that she knows and trusts to contact that saved her more grief.

References

Dont fall for phoney phone tech support
Microsoft Community
Infoweek Security - 7 Facts phone scam