May 9, 2012 46 Comments-
I used to be excited when I came home to six messages on my answering machine. But that was before a fake Windows telephone scam started calling five times a day, trying to convince me to give them my money.
The caller will claim to be either a member of the “Windows Technical Care Department”, “Windows Service Department” or a “Windows-certified support agent”. It changes every time, but the word “Windows” will almost certainly be in there.
The thick-accented man will then explain that your version of Windows is sending them error reports, and they are phoning to help fix it.
For anyone who isn’t already suspicious: Microsoft has never had a policy of phoning customers because their computers are reporting errors. In fact, Windows (as yet) has no facility for reporting non-anonymous computer errors to Microsoft without your explicit say so.
If you continue with the call, the scammer will talk your through various Windows-based commands which are supposed to highlight security errors in your system. In actual fact, these are normal Windows information boxes, and have nothing to do with any security breech. Every Windows system has them, the caller is just pretending they’re malicious errors, trying to destroy your PC.
Finally, the scammer will ask you to install LogMeIn – a software that lets the caller access your computer – or go to their website and buy a fake virus scanner. Doing either of those things is a bad idea.
Of course, LogMeIn isn’t a virus in itself – it’s actually a useful business tool – but allowing these guys access to your computer with it would be silly.
The scam itself has been widely reported to both the police and scam-watchers, but if you fancy some vigilante justice, there is one thing you can do: waste the callers time. The more time you spend on the call, the less time they can go around scamming less technically-savvy users.
In fact, it’s becoming a bit of a hobby for some people, many of whom have submitted recorded versions of their phone calls to this website: http://www.digitaltoast.co.uk/supportonclick-systemrecure-scam. The record appears to be 1 hour and 20 minutes – but be warned, some of the employees of Windows Technical Care have not have adequate customer-relations training and swear. A lot.
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