2015.01.14 Tech Corner – Raising Awareness of IT Support Scams

Raising Awareness of IT Support Scams

Article By: Rich Silva – Founder – Pain Point IT Solutions, Inc.

Pain Point IT Solutions is Raising Awareness of IT Support Scams

I recently had a client contact me to tell me that their computer started acting funny after Microsoft updated it. I asked for remote access to their computer and noticed a bunch of software shortcut icons on their desktop for what appears to look like a bunch of useful utilities. I attempted to look at the systems event log which was empty. So I started to do a little research. What I found was that these utilities and a blank event log file is a typical result of someone who had been scammed. So I asked the client again about this Microsoft update and they informed me that they were contacted by Microsoft to tell them that their computer system was infected and for some money they will remote in and fix it. To prove their point to the client, they lead them to an event log file that reports on when their antivirus may have been turned off during routine automatic updates as their justification. Apparently these companies prey on people who do not know any better, get their credit card information and then pretend they do what they said they would do. The kicker is they make the unsuspecting person compose a letter stating that they authorize their payment, they agree the service was performed, and that they will not dispute the charges. In todays environment people rely on outside IT companies or individuals to help them with their IT support issues. A good IT company will pro-actively call to alert you of issues. However, the following common sense tips will help you identify whether the company contacting you is legitimate or not so you can avoid being scammed.

1) Do not trust unsolicited calls for IT Support

Do not waver when and if the person who calls you seems to get agitated. Simply tell them that you have another IT person who fix the issue for you and hang up. Then inform you trusted IT support person for guidance.

2) Never provide an unsolicited IT Support caller any information such as IP address or system event logs

They will call with very legitimate sounding company names, often using "Windows Helpdesk", or "Microsoft Tech Support". Do not be fooled.

3) Do not provide any personal information, or credit card information to an unsolicited IT Support caller

Microsoft or any reputable IT Support company will never ask for a credit card or personal information to fix a problem unless YOU CALLED them. They will NEVER call you.

4) If you are in a company environment, if you receive an unsolicited IT support call from someone you don't know, ask your business office manager whether the IT Support company is under contract with them.

I think at this point you understand.

5) Educate yourself, family, friends and co-workers of this.

Here is a link to Microsoft's website reporting on this particular scam that I worked on fixing this week.

http://www.microsoft.com/security/online-privacy/avoid-phone-scams.aspx