It was just about seven weeks ago that I told you about the arrest of 24 people in New Delhi, India on charges related to operating a tech support scam. Now Indian law enforcement officers working with Microsoft located a major fake tech support call center also operating in New Delhi resulting in the arrest of about three dozen people. Microsoft tech support scams continue to be a major problem with instances of the fraud being reported to Microsoft increasing by 24% last year. On average, victims were scammed out of between $200 and $400. I have been reporting to you about tech support scams involving Microsoft, Apple and other tech companies for many years. Generally, these scams begin with a pop-up warning on your computer or an unsolicited telephone call, email or text message purportedly from tech support for your computer or software company telling you that your computer has been infected and that you must call a toll free number to speak with someone to get assistance in fixing the problem. Once the victim speaks with the scammer, the victim is told he or she has to pay a fee to have the problem fixed and that the victim must enable the scammer to get remote access to the computer in order to fix it. If you provide remote access to the scammer, you will end up having your personal information stolen that will be used to make you a victim of identity theft. According to a report from Stony Brook University, 85% of these scams originate in India. India is a hub for both legitimate and phony customer support call centers.
Microsoft will not and does not contact you by phone in regard to diagnosing software problems. 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. Nor will Microsoft or legitimate tech support companies notify you through a pop-up alert on your computer screen. 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.
Providing remote access to anyone to your computer can lead to a myriad of problems including identity theft and the downloading of ransomware. Neither Apple nor Microsoft ever provide notices of security problems that contain telephone numbers for you to call to fix the problem. Whenever you get a pop-up, email, or text message that appears to tell you that you have a security problem with your computer, you should never click on any links contained in the message or call the telephone number provided. If your screen freezes, all you need to do is just turn off your computer and restart it. If you are concerned that you may be experiencing a real security problem you can contact tech support at Apple or Microsoft directly by phone or by email directly using the phone number and email addresses you find on their respective websites. In fact, Neither Microsoft, Apple or Google will contact you with a telephone number to call for service. Generally they will direct you to the tech support section of their websites. None of the tech companies will ever call you if there is a problem. Whenever you get a call purporting to be from one of the tech companies informing you of a problem you need to pay for or provide remote access to your computer in order to fix, you can be sure that the call is from a scammer even if your Caller ID indicates the call is from Microsoft, Apple or some other legitimate company. As I have mentioned many times, through a technique called spoofing, scammers can manipulate your Caller ID to make it appear as if the call is originating from a legitimate source. Trust me, you can’t trust anyone.
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