BBB Logo

Better Business Bureau ®
Start With Trust®
Central Illinois
Microsoft Phone Support Scam
May 09, 2014

BBB service Central Illinois is alerting the area to a phone scam. BBB investigators received reports from local residents receiving a call from someone claiming to be the individual’s computer technician. The caller claims to have knowledge that your computer may have been compromised and offers to do a preliminary scan to ensure your computer is safe. The caller directs you to visit a website (ammyyadmin) to allow the scan to begin. Once you are on the site, a pop-up box will ask you if you would like to allow them access to your computer, Yes or No.  Once you click Yes, the scam begins.

Sharon Guhlstorf of Bloomington, contacted BBB right away and reported once she granted access to the caller from the AMMYY website, the call “wiped everything off” her computer. “I saw my files pop up and everything began to disappear” Guhlstorf described.

Once they had remote access they ‘locked’ the operating system and demanded that she pay $179 to fix the system.  When Guhlstorf refused, she claims they became loud and shouted that her computer would never work again.  Today when Gulhstorf turns on her computer she only sees a blank screen.

A preliminary BBB investigation on this scheme revealed the phone number calling Bloomington/Normal is 985-523-5016 and appears to be from Louisiana. This scheme targets Microsoft users and the software, AMMYY is a program that allows remote access to one’s computer. Once the user grants access via AMMYY that is when the risk for harm begins, according to Lance Lelm, President of Heart Technologies, Inc. located in East Peoria IL. “When you allow remote access to someone you don’t know, you open up the potential for all of your documents and information to be compromised, making you extremely susceptible to fraud” says Lelm.

According to Microsoft, once these scammers have access to the computer they can install malicious software, steal personal information, take control of the computer remotely or direct consumers to fraudulent websites where they are asked to enter their credit card information. Microsoft’s Online Safety and Security Centre states that neither Microsoft nor its partners make unsolicited phone calls.

Bonnie Bakin, President/CEO of BBB service Central Illinois says this scam has been going around for months and she isn’t surprised that this scheme has reached Central Illinois. Her advice is “Never act on information provided to you solely over the phone. Verify the source before providing access to your electronic devices or personal information.

Here are 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 cold calls. Never give out personal information, over the phone, to someone you don’t know. If the caller claims there is a security threat to your computer, hang up and call your computer company directly.

 · Find a computer repair company you can trust. Go to bbb.org to find a BBB Accredited Business you can trust.

ABOUT BBB:

For 100 years, the Better Business Bureau has been helping consumers find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2012, consumers turned to BBB more than 100 million times for Business Reviews on more than 4 million companies and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at www.bbb.org. The Council of Better Business Bureaus is the umbrella organization for 114 local, independent BBB's across the United States and Canada, as well as home to its national programs on dispute resolution and industry self-regulation.

 

MEDIA CONTACTS:

For more information, journalists should contact Jessica Tharp at 309-670-1182 orjtharp@hoibbb.org