A couple of days ago I was talking with a fellow journalist colleague and he mentioned that he recently got stung by a fake Microsoft Support phone call. The phone call ended up costing him €70 to fix his computer and more inconvenience as it had just being repaired. Sadly these phone calls are coming back and people are still falling for them. When my colleague took the phone call he ended up speaking to an Indian person, which is not unusual as companies like Microsoft have Indian members of staff working for them.
At the start of the phone call and they may state that they are calling from a Microsoft support centre. They may also state that they are calling from India, their phone line may be bad and their English is not perfect. It is worth noting that Microsoft does not have call centres in India, they never call on bad phone lines and their English is always perfect. When they speak to you on the phone they try their best to sound so convincing and this one of the reasons why they are so successful.
Once you have entered into a conversation with them, they plough into their script which has been written for them and which they will never ever deviate from. This script is something you would normally expect from a salesperson but you should never forget that any time someone is offering you a service via an obvious script is also a salesperson. After they have mentioned that they are calling from a Microsoft support centre they try their best to bag an Oscar by doing their very best to convince you that you have major problems with your computer. The only cure for this is software which unsurprisingly can be supplied but at a cost which they hope you are persuaded to pay.
The last part of the script is where they direct you to a website to download software which will allow a third party access to your computer. Once they have access to your computer one of their technicians will be able to access all your files whilst also being able to copy anything you type into the computer. This becomes useful if you decide to pay for their software and key in your payment details. When your computer is accessed by their technicians it’s like leaving the front door of your house open. All your files can be seen and malware and viruses maybe installed on your computer.
As I mentioned before the script that is being used can’t be deviated from as they are just sales people who and if you ask them anything technical you will be moved back to their script. The only person with technical skills is their technicians who you never get the chance to speak to, but who give you the privilege of seeing their nimble fingers and skills in action. A couple of years ago one of these scammers had the misfortune to ring Jerome Segura, a senior security researcher at anti-malware company Malwarebytes. Jereome recorded his encounter and placed it on YouTube. The video which can be seen below shows you how they work and when Jerome tries to force them away from their script, they retaliate very quickly.
If you do get one of these calls you should hang up the phone immediately. The last thing you want is someone gaining access to your computer, any files stored, your passwords and financial details. All they need is one in every hundred calls they make to be successful so please don’t add to that statistic. Microsoft also provides information on what to do if you were scammed and how to ensure that anyone you deal with on the phone is from Microsoft. It can be read here