Scam of the day – October 25, 2017 – Phony customer service and tech support phone numbers

Recently a Netflix customer called what he thought was the company’s customer service number that he obtained through a Google search, but actually ended up calling a scammer who had managed to set up a phony website and manipulate Google’s algorithms to get the first position in a search.  The customer ended up giving his credit card information to the scammer who used it to steal from the customer.

Clever scam artists, the only criminals we refer to as artists are increasingly setting up phony websites that appear to be for customer service or tech support of many of the companies with which we do business or purchasing telephone numbers that are a single digit off of the legitimate phone numbers for many companies’ tech support or customer support in order to take advantage of common consumer misdials.

Compounding the problem is the fact that for much social media, you will not readily find a telephone number to call and speak to a real person about your problem.  They only provide online support.

TIPS

The best place to look for a telephone number for customer support or tech support is right on your bill or the legitimate website for the company.  When calling, take extra care to make sure that you are dialing correctly.

Among the social media services that do not provide tech support by phone are Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter.  Here are links to tech support for those social media services:

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/help/

Instagram: https://help.instagram.com/

Snapchat: https://support.snapchat.com/en-US

Twitter: https://support.twitter.com/

Scam of the day – July 23, 2017 – A new twist on the tech support scam

I have been reporting to you about tech support scams for years.  These scams generally involve pop-ups that appear on your computer screen informing you of a serious, non-existent problem with your computer that requires immediate attention by you and for which you are required to pay money for a service you don’t really need.  The FTC has been particularly active in taking action against these scammers including recent actions against sixteen companies participating in these scams.

Recently, however,  a new variation on the tech support scam has been appearing where you get a phone call purporting to be from one of the companies that may have sold you unnecessary tech support services offering to refund your money.  The scammers then either ask for remote access to your computer, a payment to process the refund or personal information.  The call is not from the person or company that may have sold you worthless tech support in the past, but is most likely from a new scammer who got your name and contact information from a “sucker list” provided by the previous scammer.  If you provide access to your computer or provide personal information, this will be used to make you a victim of identity theft and payments made to them to process your refund are just funds thrown away because you will not get anything in return.

TIPS

Never give your personal information over the phone to anyone unless you have absolutely confirmed that the person is legitimate and needs your personal information for legitimate purposes.  Providing access to your computer to these people or making payments to these people is also not advised.

It is also important to have anti-virus and anti-malware software and keep them up to date with the latest security patches.  However, you should obtain these security software programs only from legitimate companies that you have researched.

It is important to remember that neither Microsoft nor Apple will contact you by way of pop up ads offering tech support for which you will be charged.  It should be noted, however, that Microsoft does regularly issue software security updates, but they do this in automated updates if you have enrolled for this service.  If you receive a pop up ad purporting to be from Microsoft or Apple and have any thought that it might be legitimate, you should merely contact Microsoft or Apple directly at a telephone number you know is accurate to confirm the pop up was a scam.

Scam of the day – June 11, 2017 – FTC settles claims with tech support scammers

I have been reporting to you about tech support scams for years.  These scams generally involve pop-ups that appear on your computer screen informing you of a serious, non-existent problem with your computer that requires immediate attention by you and for which you are required to pay money for a service you don’t really need.

Recently the Federal Trade Commission settled tech support scam claims against Global Access Technical Support LLC, Yubdata Tech, Source Pundit LLC, Helios Digital Media LLC, Rajiv Chhatwal, Rupinder Kaur and Narinder Singh.  Under the terms of the settlement, the defendants are banned from marketing and promoting tech support services in the future and are required to pay the FTC more than a million dollars to be used to provide restitution to the victims of the scam.  As details of the restitution program become available, I will report those to you.

In this particular case, the defendants used pop-up ads in the manner I described in the first paragraph of today’s Scam of the day to lure people into calling accomplices in India who represented that they were affiliated with Microsoft and Apple.  They would mislead the victims into thinking there was a problem and charge them for unnecessary remedies.

TIPS

It is always important to have anti-virus and anti-malware software and keep them up to date with the latest security patches.

It is important to remember that neither Microsoft nor Apple will contact you by way of pop up ads offering tech support for which you will be charged.  It should be noted, however, that Microsoft does regularly issue software security updates, but they do this in automated updates if you have enrolled for this service.  If you receive a pop up ad purporting to be from Microsoft or Apple and have any thought that it might be legitimate, you should merely contact Microsoft or Apple directly at a telephone number you know is accurate to confirm the pop up was a scam.

Scam of the day – March 8, 2017 – Sophisticated new tech support scam

I have been reporting to you about tech support scams for years.  These scams generally have involved pop-ups that appear on your computer screen informing you of a serious non-existent problem with your computer that requires immediate attention by you and for which you are required to pay money for a service you don’t really need.

Microsoft is warning people about the latest incarnation of this scam that appears quite legitimate.  This particular tech support scam uses Techbrolo malware that provides dialogue loops and audio messages in addition to the usual pop-ups.  The audio message says “Important security alert!  Virus intrusions detected on your computer.  Your personal data and system files may be at serious risk.  All system resources are halted to prevent any damage.  Please call customer service immediately to report these threats now.”

If you click OK on the phony dialogue box, it will take you to what appears to be the website for Microsoft tech support and even the website address appears to be legitimate, but it is not. From there it lures you into paying for a worthless service to solve a non-existent problem.

TIPS

If you are using Microsoft Edge as a search engine when the tech support goes to full screen you will receive a notification from Microsoft Edge that you can click “Exit now” to stop the attack.

It is also important to install anti-virus and anti-malware software and keep them up to date with the latest security patches. Also, if you use Microsoft Edge as a search engine, it will block many of these attacks and enable you to stop pop-up dialogues used by the scammers.

Neither Microsoft nor Apple will contact you by way of pop up ads offering tech support for which you will be charged.  It should be noted, however, that Microsoft does regularly issue software security updates, but they do this in automated updates if you have enrolled for this service.  If you receive a pop up ad purporting to be from Microsoft or Apple and have any thought that it might be legitimate, you should merely contact Microsoft or Apple directly at a telephone number you know is accurate to confirm the pop up was a scam.

Scam of the day – October 17, 2016 – Tech support scam

I have been reporting to you about tech support scams for years, however as with many scams, this one keeps evolving into new forms although the ultimate goal is still the same.  At its essence, the scam involves being contacted purportedly by Microsoft or Apple in some fashion, either by telephone call or in its most recent incarnation by a pop up ad on your computer telling you that problems have been detected on your computer that need to be remedied immediately.  In the case of the latest tech support scam which is now the subject of a legal action by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) against  five companies, as well as the three men behind the scams, Rajiv Chhatwal, Ruinder Kaur and Neeraj Dubey, the pop up ads often include loud alarms or recorded announcements warning you of dire circumstances.  The ads prompt you to call a toll-free number which leads you to a call center in India where the scammers pose as representatives of Apple or Microsoft.  Under this version of the scam they then ask for remote access so that they can diagnose the problem.  Once they have remote access to your computer, they show their victims innocuous screens and directories on their computers which the scammers say are dangerous malware requiring immediate repair for which they charge between $200 and $400 and provide you with nothing of value.

TIPS

Neither Microsoft nor Apple will contact you by way of such pop up ads offering tech support for which you will be charged.  It should be noted, however, that Microsoft does regularly issue software security updates, but they do this in automated updates if you have provided for this service or on its website.  If you receive this type of pop up ad purporting to be from Microsoft or Apple and have any thought that it might be legitimate, you should merely contact Microsoft or Apple directly at a telephone number you know is accurate to confirm the pop up was a scam.

Scam of the day – May 15, 2016 – Cybersecurity company impostors

I have been reporting to you about tech support scams for years, however as with many scams, this one is evolving into new forms although the ultimate goal is still the same.  At its essence the scam involves being contacted purportedly by Microsoft, Apple or in a more recent incarnation by your Internet Service Provider and being informed that problems have been detected on your computer that need to be remedied immediately.  They then either ask for remote access so that they can fix the problem at no cost to you or they ask for personal information.   In both situations the caller is up to no good.  If you provide remote access to your computer you will have effectively turned over all of the information in your computer to the caller who can and will then use that information to make you a victim of identity theft or install ransomware on your computer and extort a payment from you in order to unlock your computer.  If you provide personal information by phone or in an email or text message, that information too will be used to make you a victim of identity theft.

Now in a new variation of the scam, cybercriminals are setting up websites that appear to be those of legitimate cybersecurity companies such as Malwarebytes, McAfee, Symantec and Kaspersky, but if you attempt to download the free software security programs from the website, a popup will come up informing you that there is a problem with your computer that needs to be dealt with before you can download the free security software.  The popup also provides a toll-free number for you to call to fix the problem.  Of course, when you call and provide access to your computer to the person at “tech support” the scammer charges you a huge fee to fix a non-existent problem.  In other variations of this scam, the scammers steal your credit card information or even use the access to your computer that you provide to make you a victim of identity theft.   This new variation on the tech support scam appears to have originated in India.

TIPS

As the late president Ronald Reagan used to say, “trust, but verify.”  It is extremely easy to make a website look legitimate and to even manipulate its position in a Google search so it comes up high.  Therefore before you purchase any service from a website or provide any information to a website, you should first confirm that indeed you are dealing with the real company.  In addition, no legitimate cybersecurity company will require you to give them remote access to your computer when you are downloading software.

Scam of the day – March 24, 2016 – New tech support scam

I have been reporting to you about tech support scams for years, however as with many scams, this one is evolving into new forms although the ultimate goal is still the same.  At its essence the scam involves being contacted purportedly by Microsoft, Apple or in its most recent incarnation by your Internet Service Provider and being informed that problems have been detected on your computer that need to be remedied immediately.  They then either ask for remote access so that they can fix the problem at no cost to you or they ask for personal information.   In both situations the caller is up to no good.  If you provide remote access to your computer you will have effectively turned over all of the information in your computer to the caller who can and will then use that information to make you a victim of identity theft or install ransomware on your computer and extort a payment from you in order to unlock your computer.  If you provide personal information by phone or in an email or text message, that information too will be used to make you a victim of identity theft.

The latest version of this scam, which was identified by security software company Malwarebytes, starts with a customized email message sent to you that appears to come from your Internet Service Provider (ISP) informing you of  a problem diagnosed on your computer that requires immediate attention.  The message contains a toll free number for you to call to deal with the problem.   Among the phony ISP notices are phony notices from Verizon, AT&T, Comcast Xfinity, and Cox Communications.  All of them send you to a scammer in India.  Unfortunately, the phony emails look quite legitimate as is shown in the messages reproduced below:

verizon

TIPS

Neither Microsoft, Apple nor your Internet Service Provider will contact you by phone in regard to diagnosing software problems.  Neither will they contact you by way of emailed messages as shown above.  If someone contacts you by phone unsolicited by you indicating that they are from Microsoft tech support and they are calling to help you with a problem that you did not contact them about, you should immediately hang up.  You are talking to a scammer.  It should be noted, however, that Microsoft does regularly issue software security updates, but they do this in automated updates if you have provided for this service or on their website.  If you receive an email similar to the ones shown above and you have any concern that it might be legitimate, you should contact the company directly and not by way of a telephone number or email address provided in such message.  You will then be able to confirm that the original notice to you was a scam.

Scam of the day – January 19, 2016 – Dell tech support scam

We are all familiar by now with tech support scams that start with a telephone call that generally purports to be from Microsoft informing us that there is a problem with our computer’s security and we are then prompted to pay for unnecessary tech support and repair.  Now, however, a variation of this scam has turned up that is even more troublesome.  This particular tech support scam is targeting only Dell computer customers.  The scammers, posing as Dell tech support representatives are calling Dell customers and telling them that there are security problems with their computers that need to be fixed for a price, however, in the course of the call, the scammer refers to specific information about the customer that it would appear only Dell employees would know, such as the customer’s name, address, phone number, computer make and model, serial number and even the Dell Service Tab which is a code number that customers use to retrieve their service history.  Armed with this information, it is easy to see how many people would fall for this scam and pay for unnecessary updates and repairs.

TIPS

Tech support scams are easy to avoid even if the caller seems to know a lot about your computer because no company calls offering tech support.  If you receive such a call, the best thing to do is just hang up.  If you want to confirm that this is a scam, you can contact the tech support people at the company that make your computer or software.  In this case, Dell is investigating the matter. There are some indications that the stolen information was not taken through an outside data breach, as generally when this is done, the information turns up for sale on the dark web, which is the black market for stolen data. This could be a data breach caused by a rogue employee inside of Dell or one of its subsidiaries (it outsources its tech support to India).  In any event the important thing to remember if you are a Dell customer is that regardless of how much information provided to you by the phony tech support caller, the call is a scam.  Just hang up.  As more becomes known about this matter, I will report to you about it.

Scam of the day – November 17, 2015 – FTC shuts down Click4Support

Tech support scams are a profitable way for scammers to steal your money.  I have been warning you about these scams for years.  They come in a number of different varieties including pop up ads on your computer and telephone calls purportedly from Microsoft, Apple or Google.  Recently the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced that, along with the Attorneys General of Pennsylvania and Connecticut, it had filed legal action against a company, Click4Support which the FTC alleges stole more than 17 million dollars from unwary consumers by pretending that they represented Microsoft, Apple and others offering unneeded tech support services.  A federal court judge has issued a preliminary injunction against Click4Support stopping their scam and freezing their assets.

Click4Support used online advertisements and popups that made them appear to be a part of Microsoft and Apple.  The ads would lure unsuspecting computer users to call Click4Support and then give Click4Support remote access to the victims’ computers for purposes of identifying viruses, malware and other problems, which were always found whether or not they actually existed.  Then Click4Support sold its services either on a one time basis or a long-term service plan at a cost that ranged from $69 to thousands.  In return, the victims actually got nothing of value and, in some instances, their computers were harmed.

TIPS

In the phone scams for tech support, it is important to remember that neither Microsoft nor Apple will ever call you about tech support so if someone represents that they are doing just that, it is a scam.  Hang up the phone.  Don’t trust popup ads for tech support service either.  If you have any concerns about your computer’s security contact a reputable computer security company using a telephone number that you have confirmed is legitimate.

Scam of the day – December 21, 2014 – Microsoft sues tech support scammers

For years I have been warning you about the tech support scams which starts with a telephone call purportedly from Microsoft.  The caller informs you that Microsoft has diagnosed problems with your computer, such as viruses.  They then either ask for remote access so that they can fix the problem at no cost to you or they ask for personal information.   In both situations the caller is up to no good.  If you provide remote access to your computer you will have effectively turned over all of the information in your computer to the caller who can and will then use that information to make you a victim of identity theft.  If you provide personal information by phone, that information too will be used to make you a victim of identity theft.  In other situations, the scammer tells you that having scanned your computer they have found a virus or malware which they can fix for you at a fee.  Of course, there is no virus or malware, but they trick you into paying for a service you do not need.  Now Micosoft is striking back and has just filed a federal civil lawsuit in California against Omnitech Support and other associated companies that Microsoft assert has been perpetrating this scam.

TIPS

Microsoft will not and does not contact you by phone in regard to diagnosing or software problems.  If someone contacts you by phone unsolicited by you indicating that they are from Microsoft tech support and they are calling you to help you with a problem that you did not contact them about, you should immediately hang up.  You are talking to a scammer.  It should be noted, however, that Microsoft does regularly issue software security updates, but they do this in automated updates if you have provided for this service or on their website.  Installing the latest security software updates and patches is a critical part of fighting identity theft and scams because hackers exploit vulnerabilities that they discover in commonly used software to make you a victim of identity theft or scams.  Software companies are just as constantly coming up with software to correct these vulnerabilities so it is important to install the latest security patches as soon as possible.  It is for this reason that I regularly provide you with links to the latest security patches for the software that you use.  I assemble this information from the Department of Homeland Security.  It is therefore to check Scamicide each day to make sure that you do not miss important information.