Phone Scams/ Phishing Scams
Lately I have been hearing a lot of people talking about receiving calls from fake Microsoft representatives claiming that malicious software has been found on their PC. Of course this is a scam, but I am surprised at how little information there is on this topic. I know that this is a common problem for many PC users and I feel that potential victims need to be better informed. Phone scams (aka Phishing Scams) are a real problem and the more you know about them the better your chance of protecting yourself.
It is important to note that Microsoft will never call you and tell you that there is an issue with your computer. This would be too large of a task for Microsoft to try and accomplish. There are millions of Windows users and no practical way for Microsoft to call up random people and inform them of there computer problems. Any call about your computer should be considered suspicious until they are able to prove without a doubt that they are legitimate.
First of all, you should know the risks involved in communicating with these criminals. They can cause a lot of damage once they obtain certain pieces of information. The main key is to protect your private information and to not communicate it out to them. This is what they want and they will say and do anything they can to try and take it from you. When they have your information there are many different methods of using that information. Identity theft should be the biggest concern of anyone talking to a stranger over the phone. Once you provide enough info, a criminal can easily gain access to your private accounts and personal life. Never give out information such as names, phone numbers, social security numbers, credit card numbers, and other sensitive information.
Another main method of obtaining information is buy requesting remote access to your computer. Giving permission to remotely access your computer is a huge mistake. Doing this is the same as handing your PC over to the criminals. Once they gain access to your computer there are endless possibilities for them to obtain information or harm your computer.
For example, once an individual remotely connects to your computer he or she can install Malware, Adware, or other harmful infections. They may also download your personal files and records. Many people will be tricked into thinking that they are actually fixing a real problem with the PC, while they secretly perform these harmful acts in the background. Do not be fooled by there false claims even if they are able to show you on screen that your computer is “infected”.
If the scammers gain access to your computer and you realize they are doing harm the easiest way to stop it is to unplug the internet connection or turn off the PC as quick as possible. Pressing and holding the power button is the fastest way to turn off your computer and prevent damage.
Any time that a remote connection is completed by one of these computer criminals, the computer should be checked over by a computer repair professional. Only attempt to check over the computer yourself if you are knowledgeable. Simple virus scans and basic protection methods may not always find infections or other changes made by the criminals.
While Microsoft and other professionals know of these scams it is virtually impossible to stop them from completing these scams. The problem is that there are just too many of these threats popping up all over the world. It would take an army to stop these criminals. Therefore it is up to each individual user to protect themselves and become knowledgeable about how to avoid these potential scams.
Now remember, if you get a call from someone telling you that your computer is infected say “no thank you” and hang up! And always stick to the local repair guy for your computer needs.