Received in the Inbox:Sat 24 Sep 2011 12:54
‘I have just put down the telephone from helping yet another resident deal with a scam phone call purporting to come from Microsoft or ‘Windows’ and offering help with a problem PC. This latest incident has a further embellishment in that they have what looks like a very credible website at www.quickresolve.net.
A quick search for ‘Virus phone scam being run from call centres in India’ will bring up an article from The Guardian published last year explaining that this has been going on quietly since 2008 but has abruptly grown in scale this year. It is being run from call centres based in Kolkata, India by teams believed to have access to sales databases from computer and software companies.
Would it be possible for you to please publicise the threat again?
There are several versions of this fraud happening ranging from simply asking for credit card details to purchase software to fix your PC, up to taking control of the PC and downloading software to fix the problem.
In the case of the first you may be lucky and only lose the amount requested in return for software which is probably available free, if you are less fortunate extra amounts appear on your card statement.
The latter where the PC has been remotely accessed is much more difficult to assess as the likelihood is that a ‘trojan’ will be installed which then logs and transmits login identifiers and passwords as they are used. The damage here is two fold in that not only is there is a very real chance that unauthorised financial transactions will be performed, but also that cleaning the trojan off the PC is very difficult and not just a matter of loading some antivrus software. The PC will likely have to be rebuilt and then there is the tricky issue of ensuring that your existing data isn’t infected before you reload it. In many cases the fixing cost is prohibitive and a new PC is the best option.
Whilst everyone should install and maintain antivirus software, it is not always that smart at spotting this sort of rogue software, especially if it has been installed by remote access facilitated by the authorised user.
Would you please emphasise to your readers that Microsoft (or Windows’) do not make unsolicited outbound telephone calls. Microsoft will only ever call you if you call them and ask them to call you back. They do not initiate calls like this. They do not track personal computers like in some science fiction movie and they have more than enough calls from people requesting help without making outbound calls looking for more people who need assistance. They also don’t do this by email. Clicking on ‘send details’ of an error does not identify you so don’t be fooled by any claim that the call is a response.
The victims of these scams are all intelligent and normally savvy individuals who now feel really bad about being caught. They shouldn’t be embarrassed because callers are using scripts which will have been developed by psychologists to ensure a high success rate. If you have a slow PC, a caller offering to help is undoubtedly welcome! A close friend has been caught twice and feels really awful.
If you are caught out….
Unplug your PC from the internet immediately and do not ever reconnect it until it has been fully cleaned by an expert.
Phone your bank and cancel all your cards
Think hard about websites that you use where financial loss can occur, especially if you are in the bad habit of using the same password. Use a different machine to change passwords immediately and contact the providers to warn them about possible misuse.
This is not a spam type email asking you to tell all your friends about some fictious threat. There are several victims in and around the village, now counting the cost.
Can I repeat that Microsoft do not make unsolicited outbound telephone calls.
Microsoft will only ever call you if you call them and ask them to call you back.
Our human nature is to assume that people are fundamentally honest and that a caller genuinely wants to help us…that’s unfortunately when the problems start.’ Contact details supplied.