Scam calls on the rise; no one is calling you from your technical department

A growing number of Australians are picking up their phones to hear so-called technical experts tell them their computer needs fixing. Sadly, some people believe the lies these so-called experts spout.

“Hello, we’re from the technical department calling about your Windows PC,” the voice says from the other end of the phone, unbeknownst to her that she’s actually talking to the technical department of the company.

“There is a problem with your Windows PC,” she starts to say, pausing as the digital line crackles around her.

You can hear it immediately: the girl on the other end is reading from a script, in a room where more people just like her are reading from a script, calling people just like us every second of every day.

But it’s all a lie. There is no problem with your Windows PC, if you even had a Windows PC.

These are modern day tech scammers, companies set up in call centres around the world that call up regular people and try to convince them that their computers have been hacked or are broken, and a quick fix by these apparent Microsoft support people will fix everything.

“Scammers are using several well-known brands, such as Microsoft, to convince Australian consumers to give them money or personal information under the ruse that there is something wrong with their personal computer,” said Microsoft Australia’s Chief Security Advisor, James Kavanagh.

Anyone can get these calls. We’ve had four this week, and GadgetGuy uses Macs.

The calls are mostly random, and the people on the other end of the phone have no real clue what operating system you’re using. Instead, the callers are relying on the knowledge that not only are there more Windows users around the world, but that most of them won’t have any paid form of internet security, thus making the chances more likely for the scam to work.

Once the call is picked up, the script begins, and you’re eventually convinced to head to a website that may look innocuous, but can allow someone else to remotely gain access to your computer.

Problems will be mentioned, demonstrated, and now that your computer has some severe problems, you will be asked to pay to fix them.

“Microsoft does not make unsolicited phone calls or send unsolicited email messages to request personal or financial information or fix your computer,” says Kavanagh. “We strongly advise Australians to simply hang up if they receive a call of this nature and not to respond to any communications from these scammers, no matter how professional or genuine they sound.”

From the few we’ve had this week, none sounded at all professional. In fact, the moment you ask questions, they will more than likely hang up. Perhaps we just don’t sound like we can be easily fooled, or perhaps the scripts have no room for error and need a conversation to go by the book.

So how do you stop yourself from being caught out by these scam artists? Kaspersky Lab’s Sam Bryce-Johnson told us that customers should “always be diligent, and not take everything on face value.”

“Social engineering scams don’t even have to be telephone related,” Bryce-Johnson told us, ” [and] if I sent a USB drive in the post many people would simply plug it into their computer without knowing what malware might run as soon as it’s plugged in.

“There are many variations of social engineering scams, and the victims are often intelligent people who made the mistake of misplaced trust.”

If someone does call up claiming to be from Microsoft – or any other company – question them. Severely. And make sure that you have some form of internet security installed on your computer to stop any attempts of this nature dead in its tracks.

9 Comments

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  1. Toshibam70
    June 05, 11:14 Toshibam70

    İ have been called twice. Instead of falling their trap I have acted as an old age person who has no knowledge of computers.

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  2. Joobey
    August 07, 14:36 Joobey

    Just happened to me! He hung up as soon as I started to ask questions.

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  3. Pctech Online
    August 12, 12:23 Pctech Online

    Iv had 2 call scammers about my pc , i let them down the path up till the point of letting them have access then i slam them with ” I have my MCSE” then laugh at them and hangup works all the time 🙂

    Reply this comment
  4. Steve
    December 20, 10:15 Steve

    The best way to cut these scam practice’s is when they say or assume you are running an MS OS , simply tell them your running Linux or an apple Mac computer , they soon get the msg that their phone call is a waste of their time , not to mention my time on the phone with the very pushy call center rep and this has happened to me twice and I have used this to end all comms with them.

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  5. mike
    February 20, 22:52 mike

    I just say I dont have a computer…..they hang up real quick

    Reply this comment
  6. natalie
    March 03, 12:35 natalie

    I have been phoned several times a day for the last 6 weeks always comes in as a private number, I am now starting to lose my mind over these calls about how my computer needs fixing. No amount of verbal abuse seems to faze them, and I am normally not an angry person.

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  7. michael
    October 07, 17:40 michael

    havent had any calls but yes i have my security but i would love to get one then have fun with them.

    Reply this comment
  8. Argus Tuft
    October 25, 12:13 Argus Tuft

    I used to get those calls, and I used to play along with them. Realising the longer I kept them on the phone, the less time they had of scamming others. I would pretend to follow their instructions, then after about 30 minutes I would ask where the start button is. Notwithstanding, I would then ask if the start button was in the same place on an Ubuntu machine as it was n a Windows machine. They would then abuse me and hang up, whilst I would be laughing!

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  9. Lori
    April 04, 13:13 Lori

    Sick and tired, angry, hanging up, on these time wasters and they just keep coming. Anyway I am glad I found this site as I know it happens all the time to others. But Hell, what a sheer waste of time, even just getting to the phone to see a spurious number. Anothr botherer (?)
    rings 4 or five times a day with a Victoria, Australia (07) prefix and when I see that number come up I now just let it ring or switch off my iPhone.

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