Important notice: Recently we have received calls from individuals who have been the victim of tech support scams. In some cases, the scammers have used our company and even given out our technical support line number in order to give “credibility” to their operation. Note that Astrofox will never cold call a user to solicit business citing a “virus” as the reason for the interaction. We deal exclusively in business to business IT support, and so would have no cause to contact residential users.
The Windows Tech Support Scam: A Recurring Nightmare
Anyone claiming to be from “Windows” could be expected to know if there was a virus on your PC, right? And when they guide you into checking the Windows Event Viewer (where harmless errors are logged) and reading out a string of numbers, they usually manage to snare you into their swindle. After all, you don’t want to lose your hard work, or be without your computer due a virus, right?
The aim of the scammers is to talk you into installing remote software on your computer, so that they might then take control. Once done, this will either allow them to steal data, introduce a virus or other malware (the remote software itself may be a malicious tool) or just perform a bit of “tech support theater” to make it seem as though they know what they’re doing.
Once the “virus” is discovered, of course, the scammers will demand money for their services of “removing” it. This can go a number of ways, but if you refuse, there is the possibility that the scammers have remotely changed your password or encrypted your files, transforming this into a one-on-one ransomware scam.
Hello, we are calling from Windows and your computer looks like it is infected. Our Microsoft Certified Technician can fix it for you.
Sound familiar? Whether you have just been scammed or simply want to find out more on the topic, you have come to the right place.
Tech support scams are a million-dollar industry and have been around since 2008. Every single day, innocent people are tricked into spending hundreds of dollars on non-existent computer problems.
Who are these people?
Usually from India and operating out of boiler rooms, these scammers call people in the U.S, Canada, the UK, and Australia whom they find in the phone directory.
The scam is straightforward: pretend to be calling from Microsoft, gain remote control of the machine, trick the victim with fake error reports and collect the money.
If you ever get a call from a Microsoft or Windows tech support agent out of the blue, the best thing to do is simply hang up. Likewise scammers will use the reputation of tech support companies (even us!) in order to give “credibility” to their operation. Astrofox operate business to business IT support only and would never attempt to sign a home user up to a “support package”.
Scammers like to use VoIP technology so their actual number and location are hidden. Their calls are almost free which is why they can do this 24/7.
What to do if you are called
1. Put the phone down. Get rid of the caller and move on with your life. It is not a legitimate call.
2. During your conversation, don’t provide any personal information. This is a good rule for any unsolicited call. And certainly never hand over your credit card or bank details. Just don’t do it.
3. If you’ve got this far, we can only reiterate point number 1: get off the phone. But whatever you do don’t allow a stranger to guide you to a certain webpage, or instruct you to change a setting on your PC or download software.
4. If possible get the caller’s details. You should certainly report any instance of this scam to Action Fraud.
5. Finally, change any passwords and usernames that could plausibly have been compromised, and run a scan with up-to-date security software. Then ensure that your firewall and antivirus are up to date and protecting your PC.
Oh, and there is a number 6: tell everyone about it. This scam preys on people’s insecurity about lack of tech knowledge. It is very easy to be a victim, and the best defence is sharing knowledge. It is much easier to put the phone down if you are forewarned.