You 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.
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’)
“These 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.”
When 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.