Bogus Microsoft telephone scammers targeting local computer owners

A scam in which computer owners receive a phone call from a person claiming to be from Microsoft is once again in operation with local computer users falling victim to these cyber criminals. We spoke to Phil from eNET Computers this week to find out more about the scam and how we can protect ourselves.
Is it a scam? Phil, a Microsoft registered engineer, explained that this is not a legitimate call from Microsoft. Neither Microsoft nor its partners make unsolicited phone calls (also known as cold calls) about your computer security or software fixes. Any contact with Microsoft is always initiated by the customer, never by Microsoft itself.
What do I do? Phil advises that if you receive a call like this one, it’s a scam, and all you need to do is hang up. Cybercriminals often use publicly available phone directories, and even social media to piece together information about you, so they might know your name and other personal information when they call you. They most certainly guess that you are using Windows (90% of us are) but it is a scam, so simply hang up.
Why is it dangerous? Once cybercriminals gain your trust, they might ask for your user name and password or ask you to go to a legitimate website to install software (teamviewer) that will let them remotely access your computer to “fix” it. Once you do this, your computer and your personal information are extremely vulnerable. They will take control of your computer and while on your end, it looks like your computer is frozen they will attempt to copy data from your hard drive which includes personal information, accounts, passwords, client information (if you use your computer for work), bank details (as well as passwords) and more. Phil explained that the fallout from a security breach like this can take months to surface. It might not occur to you until months later that you have sensitive information or a particular account or subscription that hackers can take advantage of. It’s better to avoid being conned rather than try to repair the damage afterwards.
Why do we fall for it? These criminals are experts in what they do. First they gain your trust, then they convince you there is a problem and then, they offer to fix it. When the scammer calls you, they often ask for you by name. They’ll say they are a computer security expert from Microsoft (or another legitimate tech company) and taht they have detected a problem with your computer. They will confuse you with jargon and ask you to open common Microsoft utilities or download an app that list what appear to be problems with your computer. Then they offer to help fix the problem and convince you to download software which, unbeknownst to you, allows them to control your PC. Sometimes, they claim your copy of Windows is unregistered and ask for your credit card details for the licence fee.
As no legitimate IT security professional is ever going to call you in this way, you should always treat all unsolicited phone calls with scepticism. If you receive an unsolicited call from someone claiming to be from Microsoft Tech Support, it’s best to hang up.
Phil’s advice is:
• never give anyone access to your PC, laptop or tablet, unless you can confirm it’s a legitimate member of the computer support team with whom you are already a customer and have spoken to
• never give anyone access to your personal details or passwords or disclose financial information either via a call or email.
• never pay a fee for any unsolicited technical help
• don’t download any software, or click on links sent to you by a person who has phoned or emailed you out of the blue.
• Keep you antivirus software up to date and use a reputable app like Malwarebytes to scan your computer at least once every two weeks
If you have any questions or to find out more about how to protect your PC, or to arrange a health check, call Phil on 687 36 28 44.