Help Desk Phone Scams Are Alive And Well

A loyal user contacted me recently with a great story about how she cleverly defeated the efforts of a persistent phone scammer who was posing as a help-desk technician. The scammer pretended to be warning her that her machine was infected. Here are a few excerpts from a very well-written blog account of the incident:

“The caller had a very heavy accent that I could barely understand. He ID’d himself as Mumble, Mumble of the Computer Maintenance Dept of “your” (meaning my) operating system, which makes no sense. Said he was calling because they’ve had so many error reports from my web browsing. That I have been downloading infected files, my OS has been badly corrupted with malicious programs without my knowledge, and my computer is 60 – 70% not working. This would get worse and my computer is going to crash. I said he had the wrong number but then he asked for me by name.

“Ever since the new power supply was installed, my computer has been working great and I have been using Vipre av and fw since last December. I also occasionally run a scan with the free Malwarbytes program. I asked him repeatedly who he was and why he was calling and the closest he got to naming my OS was ‘Windows OS.’ Never which one, which in itself is suspicious because if he was getting all these error reports, shouldn’t he know the OS?”

. . .

“He told me several times to go online with IE and then tell him what is my home page. I don’t use IE and I wasn’t about to go online for a stranger. I asked why he wanted me to and why it had to be with IE and he finally said he was going to send me somewhere they could help me fix this problem before my computer crashes.”

The long and short of it is that she hung up and didn’t answer the phone when he called back. Entire blog post here.

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Tom Kelchner is Research Center Manager at Sunbelt Software. Tom is a communications professional with extensive background in computer security, anti-virus application testing and computer virus analysis. He is a former daily newspaper reporter and deputy press secretary to governor of Pennsylvania.