Sunday, September 11, 2011

Computer virus phone scams

Perhaps an unknown telephone caller claims your computer is corrupted by viruses and involved in alarming errors and electronic transgressions. The scammer might say,
"We've had a report from your internet service provider of serious virus problems from your computer."
You might be instructed to go immediately to the computer so the crisis can be resolved. In fact, you have been targeted by international organized crime.

But, relax. As long as you do nothing, hang up and refuse to follow instructions of an uninvited stranger, you and your computer should be safe.

My home has been a frequent recipient of these calls for weeks. Worldwide campaigns originating from Indian call centres pretend to represent Microsoft or some Windows security effort. These fraud artists work from lists of names and numbers and ask for a particular person, by name, and that gives a hint of authenticity. You might be asked to open the Windows "Event Viewer," a standard logging and diagnostic tool that provides reports likely to appear urgent to the uninitiated.

Various tactics are employed but generally the computer user is guided to install a downloaded program "to correct the problem." A service or subscription fee is eventually demanded and there are reports of users being locked out of their own machines until an extravagant fee is paid. Inexperienced and elderly computer users are favoured targets.

The authentic Seattle based Windows provider says,
"Microsoft does not make unsolicited phone calls to help you fix your computer. If you receive an unsolicited call from someone claiming to be from Microsoft Tech Support, hang up. We do not make these kinds of calls."
In fact, there are a number of free and low cost maintenance and protection tools available to computer users but these can be researched and downloaded from trustworthy sites. I read advice from online webpages such as PC Magazine, PC World, CNET and others that have been long time participants in the computer world. Even if I download a recommended program, I ensure it comes from a trustworthy source that I go to directly, without using links from third parties.

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  1. I had one of those calls Norman. I told them I don't have a computer and hung up.
    I can't stand telephone soliciting.

  2. Got one last Thu. They called me Mr Fred with an Indian accent. Did not know my last name and were insistent that I go m ot my computer.
    I asked what she could do and how much it would cost, she confessed $270 when fixed. I told her to go #$@#$# herself and hung up.

  3. I get at least two of these a week and the last one was so laughable, as his Indian accent was so thick I couldn't understand him.

    I was a classic case of who's on first - what's on second, as he desperately tried to make me believe that Armageddon was soon upon me (his actual words after 5 attempts) because of computer viruses.

    Bereft of real comedy on TV, I kept listening as he desperately tried to convince me and I ended the farce by saying; "Good god man, how can you expect to scam English speaking people, if you can't bloody well speak the language."

    God knows how people get scammed on these things? Oh yes, they voted for Gordon Campbell!

  4. As long as people do not educate themselves in computer basics and add some common sense to that education, there will be scams like this and unfortunately many victims.These victims remind me of a transcript of a tech support call that I read somewhere. In the call, the computer owner was so dumb that the tech support person finally gave him the following advice:

    Tech : Do you have the boxes that your computer came in ?
    Person: Yes, why ?
    Tech: I want you to pack up your computer and send it back to us.
    Person: Why ?
    Tech: Because you are too f**king stupid to own a computer.
    This was reported as a true story and the tech was fired, but it makes a good point.

  5. this is really helpful. i get a lot of calls and thank God some people took the time to share valuable information like this through blogs and forums.



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