Scamwatch: calls from "IT Support"

Have you recently received a call from a helpful gentleman with an Indian accent who claims to be calling from Microsoft or from "IT support" to alert you to a problem with your computer? It's a scam of course.  And it's happening a lot at the moment.

We've had several of these in the past week or so and I was actually at a client site standing next to the phone when they received one such call.

The first time I dealt with one of these calls the conversation went like this:

Me: hello, Simon Garlick speaking. Caller: Good morning, this is IT Support, we're calling to let you know we have detected a problem with your Windows operating system. Me: Really. Where is it you're calling from again? Caller: IT Support. Me: And what company do you represent? Caller: This is IT Support for your Windows operating system, and we're calling to let you know we have detected a problem. Me: That's a surprise to me, as every computer in this office is a Mac. *click* Me: Hello?

This is a well-known scam and is summarised by the ACCC's Scamwatch service like this:

This scam typically involves a scammer cold-calling you and requesting remote access to your computer. If you give the scammer access, they will claim to run a scan, discover a fake virus and then apply high pressure sales tactics to convince you to buy unnecessary anti-virus software or technical services to ‘fix’ your computer.

Past waves of this scam have been found to originate from callcentres in Kolkata, India. These most recent calls may appear to be coming from local phone numbers, so don't be fooled. They're VOIP numbers and the calls are coming from overseas.

Warning signs

  • You receive a scam call out of the blue claiming there is a problem with your computer.
  • The caller claims to be from a large computer company/brand, bank, financial institution, or legitimate technical service provider.
  • They will request remote access to your computer and if you say yes will run a ‘scan’ that shows up a fake virus.
  • The scammer will pressure you into buying unnecessary software or a service to ‘fix’ the computer.
  • The scammer may be very persistent and use abusive or inappropriate language.
  • The scammers may sound professional and knowledgeable.
  • If you fall victim to the scam you may receive a follow up call falsely claiming to be from an overseas government or law enforcement body pretending they can recover the money you initially lost to the scam – Beware this is another scam!

Protect yourself

  • If you receive a phone call out of the blue about your computer system’s security status and requesting remote access - hang up – even if they mention a well-known company or product.
  • NEVER give an unsolicited caller remote access to your computer.
  • If you have given remote access to your computer, or you fear that your computer has been hacked, seek out help or advice from a qualified and reputable computer technician.
  • Do not give out your personal, credit card or online account details over the phone unless you made the call and the phone number came from a trusted source.
  • Make sure your computer is protected with regularly updated anti-virus and anti-spyware software, and a good firewall - but research first and only purchase the software from a source that you know and trust.
  • If you have fallen victim to a scam or you receive a lot of unsolicited emails and phone calls consider changing your email address and phone numbers.
  • If you are considering providing your details to a company, read their privacy policy/terms and conditions first. If you do not agree with how they will use your details, do not provide them.
  • If you think you have provided your account details to a scammer, contact your bank or financial institution immediately.

For more information:

New twist on computer error message/virus scams: joint warning

ACMA targets computer virus telemarketers

'Pay up or your PC's toast'

-- Simon