The Microsoft Phone Fraud – Don’t be a victim

The Microsoft Phone Fraud – Don’t be a victim

There has been a lot in the news recently about phone calls from fraudsters pretending to be Microsoft attempting to extort money from the innocent. Despite the high profile discussions in the press about this type of fraud at Genmar we are still helping a lot of customers who have recently become victims. I would like to help to make clear what the scam is and how to avoid being caught out.

The Facts –
• 12,000 reports of computer software service fraud between June 2014 & November 2014
• The average age of a victim is just under 60
• Over 90% were White British
• Split pretty much 50/50 male / female
• The average reported loss is over £200
• Total reported loss nearly £700,000
• Anyone who has a home computer connected to the internet can become a victim

The Scam –
You will receive a phone call from someone purporting to be from Microsoft (this can vary in wording as it is not a single organisation) there are also variations on the theme as some are now saying they are from your ISP (the company that supplies your broadband) maybe Talk Talk or BT.

The caller will tell you your computer has been identified as having an issue with a virus or some other security issue and they will then ask you to follow a process to allow them to remote access your PC – click here, ok that etc. – once they have access to your computer they may install some fake antivirus software that looks like it is scanning your system for infections and shows results on screen for all sorts of nasties. They may also start searching for personal data (bank details, passwords etc.).

Using the fake results of the scan on screen to mislead you into thinking they are right, they will ask you to pay, normally by debit card but they will take pretty much any payment. The payment can be a one off or they may offer you a deal to keep these viruses away for a year or variations on this theme. The caller will then tell you they have removed the infections and that’s it….. or is it?

It is not uncommon for them to call back soon after and try again saying that they are aware you have been visiting illegal sites (normally porn) and that you have been infected with some horrible virus that is not covered by the initial payment due to where you have been. This is a good use of
psychology as reportedly 30% of internet searches are porn related and the associated guilt may assist the fraudsters to glean a few more bucks out the victims purely out of embarrassment.

It is not unknown for them to install other software that will allow them to access your computer at a later time without your knowledge allowing further fraud to be carried out against you.

What can you do? –
Microsoft will never call you – I have been running a successful IT business for 20 years and I can count on one hand the number of times I have been contacted by them.
• Never allow anyone to remote access your computer – unless you know the company involved. Over 30% of our work, at Genmar, is resolving issues by remote access but this is either part of our support contract or ad hoc work resulting from a customer call. We never cold call customers asking to remote access their systems.
• Never divulge passwords or PINs – I know, I can hear you now “does he think I am stupid? Even my grandmother knows that” You may be surprised to know that people are quite prepared to give total strangers this info if you want to check for yourself you can click or type the link below.

If you watched that and thought well that’s the Americans for you then you should consider a recent survey carried out on people passing through Liverpool Street station:
• More than 70% revealed their password when bribed with a bar of chocolate
• 34% did not even need the bribe!
Just say no! 🙂

And finally The E Factor – Embarrassment!
The scammers are well versed in psychological communication tactics and will happily make you feel like a complete idiot or a pervert if you do not do as they want. So the figures reported earlier are likely to be just the tip of the iceberg.

As important as not allowing them to access your system in the first place is to “man-up” if you suspect you may have been a victim in the past – call someone able to assist you (like Genmar – oh yes we can help you :)). It is entirely possible that you could still be providing them with data or that they may still have access to your computer! Unless of course you are happy to lose all your money rather than admit you’re just like the majority of people 🙂

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