Don’t Be Fooled By The Windows Support Scam

We have recently seen an uptick of the so called “Windows Support Scam” right here in Brunswick County in North Carolina and in Horry County in South Carolina. We are now getting from 10 – 15 calls a week from clients telling us they either got a call on the phone or a popup on their screen telling them to call a toll free number. In fact, I was at a clients house and she got a call and handed the phone to me. I told him we didn’t have a computer and he hung up. Let me start by saying there is never anyone monitoring your computer for free. This type of thing is always a scam. Now lets take a look at the two types of scams.

Phone Call Scam

WirusYou might very well get a call from someone claiming to be from Windows Support. Most will not claim to actually be Microsoft but rather contracted by them. Most will have a foreign accent but there are some U.S. based scammers as well. They might use terms like “Microsoft Certified” or “Microsoft Gold Partner.” They will often tell you that you have viruses or errors have been detected coming from your computer. They will ask for remote access to your computer in order to investigate further. If you are hesitant, they will show your even error log that might look something like this:

Log This is a log from my own computer and I can assure you these are normal entries. The caller will try and convince you that these critical and errors mean your computer is either infected or about to crash. They might say this is an indication that someone is hacking your computer and sending your information all over the world. This “SCARE TACTIC” often convinces folks that the person calling is legitimate. This is often enough for many to turn over control of their computer to the caller. The truth is, the error log listed above is normal and is in fact from one of the computers right here in the shop.

The caller will then go on to tell you that you are infected and the only way to fix it is for them to put some kind of software on your computer. What you don’t know is while they are on your computer they will have access to any saved passwords and any documents that you might have. They may also booby-trap your computer so that when you reboot, you will be locked out. At this point, they will tell you it will cost anywhere from $200 to $500 to fix this and if you hire someone local it will cost twice as much.

Popup Scam

You might get a popup on your screen that looks something like this:

errorscript_co_pop-upIf you call the number, the “script” will be similar as if you were called. They will be very convincing. Recently, The Today Show ran a story on how one of their own was duped into this type of scam.

As the video said, it doesn’t matter how old you are or how smart you are, you can be caught off guard.

What Can You Do?

Well first and foremost, never let an unsolicited person on your computer, EVER. If you are ever in question as to what is legitimate or not, please give us a call at That PC Dude. We will never charge you for advice. Never give out your banking or credit card information. Remember, if they are on your computer, they can have access to everything on there, even stored passwords. If you are a victim, report this to Microsoft or the Federal Trade Commission. We at That PC Dude find these scams to be horrendous and want to help shut these criminals down.

Now if you have turned over control of your computer, you need to be aware that these criminals do have access to anything on your computer. This includes sensitive documents and passwords stored on the computer. They could install software that would allow them to view every keystroke you make (though we have only seen this type of thing rarely.) They can also lock you out of your computer in such a way that even we might not be able to do anything more than backup your data and reload your computer. We highly recommend having a professional evaluate your computer to ensure there are no nasty surprises left behind.

References:

Avoid tech support scams (Microsoft)

https://consumerist.com/2015/11/13/feds-shut-down-phony-apple-microsoft-google-tech-support-scammers/

How to avoid the hacker trick even Natalie Morales fell for (NBC Today Show)

The Department of Homeland Security Recommend Uninstall QuickTime from Windows

qtnomoreUS-CERT (United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team) of the Department of Homeland Security has recommended that all Windows users uninstall Apple QuickTime from their computer. According to an blog posted by Trend Micro, Apple will no longer update QuickTime for Windows. This announcement coupled with known vulnerabilities within the software makes it ripe for hackers to exploit and infect a user’s computer. Instructions for removal can found at https://support.apple.com/HT205771.

We at That PC Dude will be removing QuickTime from computers we service but if you need assistance to remove now, please contact  us.

References:

Alert TA16-105A: Apple Ends Support for QuickTime for Windows; New Vulnerabilities Announced

Trend Micro: Urgent Call to Action: Uninstall QuickTime for Windows Today

Let’s Be Safe Out There… On the Internet

wormMore than ever, viruses, spyware, worms, trojan horses, browser hijackers and other forms of malware are a huge problem. The biggest threat today is known as drive-by downloads. These are infected websites that offer to update or install something on your computer in order to work with that website but instead install malware. This is usually comes in the form of a rogue antivirus/antispyware programs, computer optimizing programs or other “helpful” software. Many of these are designed to steal your personal data or hold your system hostage while urging you to pay for some bogus computer software that IS THE PROBLEM. And know, that just because you have security software, that is not enough. I want to stress that no single program will completely protect your computer from malicious programs and that safe internet usage and frequent software updates are important to keep your computer clean.

Periodically programs like Adobe Flash or Java might want to update. While these are perfect legitimate programs, they sometimes want to add unwanted toolbars and other FREE addons that might slow your computer down. It is important to READ every screen as you are clicking NEXT.

Another trick is you might get a phone call from someone with a foreign accent claiming to be from “Windows Support.” They will tell you that their remote monitoring has detect problems and y will ask for access to your computer. Please note that NO ONE is remotely monitoring your computer unless you are paying for such a service. Once you give access they will claim you have many problems that only THAT PERSON can fix. This is always a scam. A variation on this is you might get a pop up with phone number to call. This is also a scam.

Microsoft-Scam-300x300

Safe Internet Surfing Notes

  • Be careful of Internet sites visited, especially those that you are unfamiliar with that require you to DOWNLOAD a special utility to view content. These may infect your system with malware.
  • If you get a popup that seems to be from the Windows Security System and wants you to run a scan do NOT do it. Windows does not alert you of security threats in that manner. It is a scam and will more than likely install a rogue security program that is difficult to remove.
  • Beware of any program that you download from an unknown source.
  • Beware of an email from a friend with a subject like “Hey Check this out” with only a link to a website and no other more personal information. Chances are it did not come your friend.
  • If you receive any email, even from friends, that require you to add any software to view a website, assume that it is some type of spyware at the very least.
  • Beware of emails from UPS, FEDEX or other delivery services that require you to open an attachment view your package status. It is some form of malware. Those companies give you the status of your package in the message.
  • Understand that often times, toolbars and screensavers are major sources of spyware and malware.

That PC Dude LLC offers classes in safe Internet practices that may help keep you out of trouble. Check out our website or call for when classes are offered. We want to help you get the most out of your computer.

Take Care,

That PC Dude