Tech support tricks are a world-wide issue where someone uses scare tactics to scam you into technical support services that allegedly fix phony device, platform, or software problems. The fake support staff (they often speak broken English or German) try to persuade their victims on the phone to carry out certain steps on the PC under their guidance, they might attempt to confuse you with jargon.
If you are lucky the scammers will “only” try to get you to pay them to “fix” a nonexistent problem with your device or software. The worst case scenario would be them trying to steal your personal and/or financial information; and if you allow them to remote into your computer to “help you”, they will often install malware, or other unsought programs, that can steal your personal information and data or damage your device.
And out of the blue, it happened to me too, I was contacted by a number from another country. But I quickly caught on to the scammer and I would like to share this “story” with you.
“My story” or “How to scam the scammer”
I received a call from a “Microsoft” Call center, and a woman who spoke with broken english told me there is something wrong with my computer. It was apparently hacked, and it was being used to do “bad things” on the internet.
Before you think, “Ahh, Bernhard – don’t be stupid – that is a fake”, I did realise this and thought: “Hold on, I want to play this game and see how these guys work.” Because I use a MacBook in my everyday life, I quickly switched to an old Lenovo Laptop for my “test” and went back to the call.
While I feigned interest, the “Microsoft-Employee” transferred the call to a man called David, a supposed expert on internet fraud who would help me. So this David asked me loads of questions and told me that my internet, computer, and even my identity were at risk. I was “shocked” to say the least 🙂
To prove the (non-existant) bad situation to me, David asked me to use Windows-R and then type in EVENTVWR – I think this was meant to impress regular users like “me”. So after opening up Event Viewer, he asked me to open the Administrative log there. David wanted to know if there were any yellow or red symbols, and – sure enough – there were tons of them showing up. David explained to me, that every single symbol shows that my computer tracked a hacker’s action. At this point he was really pushing the idea that my computer was infected. He also wanted to know how many of those messages there were. I told him 3.820.
David told me that this is exceptional and if I know who might be responsible for this. I said “I have no idea” and David said: “It’s you, because they are using your internet and your name and identity for whatever they are doing in your name”.
So I asked David: “What can I do?” and I also made sure to sound a bit shocked about the dire situation I was in…all the time having a little smile on my face 😊.
Luckily David had a solution for me available. As he is from Microsoft, he could help me install a program that would protect my computer and kick out all the hackers.
The call had already taken about 15 minutes at that time, and we went into the hot phase of installing a program on my computer. So, just before David wanted to tell me how to proceed with that, I said to him:
“David, before we proceed, I need to tell you something. I am an IT professional, and I do not want to waste your time”.
He only had two words for me before hanging up: “F**ck you”.
So…how do I protect myself against such fraud?
First, be sure to follow these tips on how to keep your computer secure. It is also important to keep the following in mind:
- Microsoft does not send unsolicited email messages or make unsolicited phone calls to request personal or financial information, or to provide technical support to fix your computer. Any communication with Microsoft has to be initiated by you.
- If a pop-up or error message appears with a phone number, don’t call the number. Error and warning messages never include a phone number.
- Download software only from official Microsoft partner websites or the Microsoft Store. Be wary of downloading software from third-party sites, as some of them might have been modified without the author’s knowledge to bundle support malware and other threats.
- Microsoft technical support will never ask that you pay for support in the form of Bitcoin, paypal or gift cards.
I know that people have been warned about these scams, but my obviouslythey are still calling people, still trying to scam them and to get a hold of data..even money for supposed services they helped with.
This is one of the main reasons for this article and others like it – we need to keep informing people about it until these scammers are forced to stop.
So, f you believe you have a Microsoft tech support scammer on the phone, we recommend that you hang up. If they continue to call, block the number on your phone! And never ever give someone strange access to your computer…simple as that!
Yes, I get these calls on a semi regular basis. “Hello, this is Brittany “. Nobody in your country is named Brittany.
If I am not busy I play along for a bit. Usually they will at some point ask “what does it say”, looking for a registry key, entry point or ‘aha, hacked’ conclusion to a standard query return. At this point I say “it says tell the scammer they have wasted enough time, now go to hell” and wait for the response.