A recent report came out saying that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in conjunction with other firms like it in five other countries just shut down what they would call the biggest international tech support scam in history.
Tens of thousands of customers were fooled into thinking someone from Microsoft or Google were calling and claiming they had a virus on their computer lead to them allowing the perpetrator to remotely access their computer and lock the user out.
In this time they “acted” as if they were removing the non-existent malware from their computer and charging the customer anywhere between $45-$450.
It does not look like anyone has been arrested yet for this tech support scam, but it is believed the offenders were living in India using US carriers and a Virtual Office setup (8×8 and Virtual PBX are two companies who specialize in Virtual Office packages.)
Lessons Learned From The Tech Support Scam
So what can we learn from this tech support scam? This is an example of the tens of thousands of people who fall prey to social engineering.
To put things bluntly, Microsoft and Google will never call you cold and tell you you have a virus.
It’s not their business to do so, and Google does not have a team of technical support representatives that customers can call when they have a computer problem. They have a helpdesk exclusive for employees only.
Scams similar to this tech support scam are the kind of things more companies, small to large, need to train their employees on. Social engineering, and why it is bad for everyone to fall for it.
If It’s Too Good To Be True…
It probably is. If you have a virus on your computer, no one is going to call you to tell you.
It will fall on you, the individual to call your company’s IT support yourself and tell them you have a virus. At which point you initiated the call so you have someone on the phone you can trust won’t scam you.
I’ll leave you with a little bit of advice should this happen to you. If someone calls you and they say they represent a major name you are familiar with (we’ll say, Symantec as an example) and they tell you they have detected a virus on your machine, run some questions through in your head.
Why is Symantec calling you individually to tell you this? How did they get your phone number to tell you you have a virus?
After realizing that they are probably not who they say they are, hang up the call and consult your local IT and tell them what happened.
If you do have a virus on your computer, your local techs will tell you and fix the issue. If you do not have a local IT to consult, call a tech support company you can trust and ask them yourself.
Have you or someone you know been contacted by a tech support scam or any other type of social engineering? Share your experience!