Phone Scammers Claim Your Computer Has Errors
- By Dean Jay Williams
Although scams involving our computers usually arrive via email, sometimes the telephone is the medium of choice. It pays to be just as on guard for phone-based technical support scams as we are for email scams.
For example, a UVM community member recently got a phone call "from Microsoft." The friendly caller said Microsoft had been monitoring her computer for months, and that it had "errors."
What to do
If you receive a call like this -- whether the caller claims to be from Microsoft, from other technology company, or even from UVM IT personnel -- please hang up. If you're not positive whether the call is a scam, please contact the UVM IT Helpline (656-2604) or your departmental IT support folks. They'll be able to determine if your computer really does have a problem, and if it does, they'll help you fix it.
How it works
Telephone-based tech support scams have been going on as long as people have had computers. The caller may lead you through steps that "prove" your computer has a virus or another problem, and of course you'll be offered a fix, usually involving downloading software from a web site. That software, of course, isn't helpful at all -- it infects your computer and proceeds to steal information or to enroll it in a world-wide network of zombie computers that will do just about anything the scammers command it to do.
For more information
Here are some examples of technical support phone scams:
- Microsoft warns computer owners of phone scam (video)
- Beware Telephone Scam! "Microsoft" Says Your Computer Has a Virus
- Have you Fallen for the 'Ammyy' Scam?
- New twist on computer error message/virus scams
- Don’t fall for phony phone tech support