• All about Tech Support Scams

    by  • April 11, 2014 • Tech • 0 Comments

    unpacked-logoYou hear those stories about someone calling claiming they’re from Microsoft and that they’ve “found a problem on your computer” and are here to help. To be honest, I didn’t put much faith into those stories. I mean, really? Do people actually get those calls? Well, earlier this year I was sitting in a colleague’s office, someone on our tech staff, when her cell rang and she answered it. She quickly put it on speaker so I could hear the caller. It was someone claiming to be from Microsoft wanting to help her with a problem on her computer. She let him go on for about five minutes, not actually doing anything he said to do, before hanging up. Yes folks, these calls are real. And no, they are not calling to help you.

    Last week I was pointed to a great page from Mallwarebytes titled “Tech Support Scams – Help & Resource Page“. This is a great recourse you can use to familiarize yourself with these sorts of scams and to point others to in order to educate them to spot and ignore these scams.

    For example:

    Cold Call

    Usually from India and operating out of boiler rooms, these scammers call people in the U.S, Canada, the UK, and Australia whom they find in the phone directory.

    The scam is straightforward: pretend to be calling from Microsoft, gain remote control of the machine, trick the victim with fake error reports and collect the money.

    If you ever get a call from a Microsoft or Windows tech support agent out of the blue, the best thing to do is simply hang up. Scammers like to use VoIP technology so their actual number and location are hidden. Their calls are almost free which is why they can do this 24/7.

    …and the specific techniques they use:

    The Task Manager (CPU ‘spikes’)

    cpu

    falseThese spikes are dangerous for your PC’s health. Just like your heart rate, they should not go up. Your PC could suffer some irreparable damage.

    trueWhen your PC is active, you will see the CPU usage go up and down constantly. What would not be good is if the CPU was pegged at 100% utilization all of the time. This is not the case here.

    Even if you know what you’re doing, this is a wonderful page to read and share.

    About

    Michael Sauers is currently the Technology Innovation Librarian for the Nebraska Library Commission in Lincoln, Nebraska and has been training librarians in technology for more than 15 years. He has also been a public library trustee, a bookstore manager for a library friends group, a reference librarian, serials cataloger, technology consultant, and bookseller. He earned his MLS in 1995 from the University at Albany’s School of Information Science and Policy. Michael’s twelfth book, Google Search Secrets (w/ Christa Burns) was published October 2013 and has two more books on the way. He has also written dozens of articles for various journals and magazines. In his spare time he blogs at travelinlibrarian.info, runs Web sites for authors and historical societies, takes many, many photos, and reads more than 100 books a year.

    http://www.travelinlibrarian.info/

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