BBB Warns of Fake Microsoft Phone Scam

May 15, 2012 Updated May 15, 2012 at 4:37 PM EDT

By WKBW News

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BBB Warns of Fake Microsoft Phone Scam

May 15, 2012 Updated May 15, 2012 at 4:37 PM EDT

Buffalo, N.Y. (WKBW release) -- The Better Business Bureau reports new activity for a phone scam that’s making the rounds in which the caller claims to be from Microsoft, a trusted household name.

According to a news release from the BBB:

The caller offers to solve a computer problem or sell a software license, all in an effort to gain remote control access to the consumer’s computer.

Consumers in Upstate New York have contacted the BBB to report receiving a phone call from a “Microsoft employee” who told them they ‘detected’ a virus on their computer. “The man identified himself as being from Microsoft tech support and said he found that my computer had a virus,” a Buffalo consumer told BBB. “He directed me to go to my computer and proceeded to give me directions to ‘get rid of the virus.” When the consumer asked questions about where they were calling from, the scammer hung up.

“Consumers should always ask questions,” said David Polino, Better Business Bureau President. “If the call is legitimate, you should be offered information to call the person back after you've ckecked them out. Often just asking simple questions will prompt the end of the call if you haven’t already hung up on your own.”
 
Consumers are advised the directions being given in this scam are the same steps needed when legitimate computer service call is made to give full, remote access to the computer. Giving access to your computer without full knowledge of who you’re dealing with can open up a host of identity theft issues, and expose personal financial information as well. 

Cybercriminals work to gain a victim’s trust and once they have it they can do one or more of the following:

•    Trick people into installing malicious software on their computer.

•    Take control of a victim’s computer remotely and adjust settings in order to leave the computer vulnerable.

•    Request credit card information so that cybercriminals can bill for the phony services.
According to Microsoft, consumers are reminded they will not make unsolicited phone calls to help you with your computer.

Some of the organizations that cybercriminals claim to be from:

Windows Helpdesk
Windows Service Center
Microsoft Tech Support
Microsoft Support
Windows Technical Department Support Group
Microsoft Research and Development Team (Microsoft R & D Team)

BBB advises consumers follow these tips to protect themselves from scammers attempting to access their computer:

Go through your service provider directly. If you are concerned your computer may be exposed to viruses or other security threats, contact your service provider directly. Some providers offer free tools that can help detect and remove viruses.
 
Install virus detection. To help protect your computer from viruses make sure you have virus detection software installed on your computer. This software can also help identify if a virus appears on your computer.

Don’t trust odd calls. Never give out personal information, over the phone, to someone you don’t know. Regardless of the claims made by a caller, if you didn’t make the call yourself and trust the person on the other end of the phone – don’t share your personal information.