Consumer Warning: Windows Computing Scam

  
     
July 03, 2017

Computer Scam Exposed as Victims Contact BBB

The Better Business Bureau Serving Northwest North Carolina is warning consumers of a recent scam involving home computers that has already cost victims hundreds of dollars.

 Consumer protection experts at the Better Business Bureau discovered an information technology scam after several local victims contacted the office to investigate phone calls they had recently received.The suspect callers identified themselves as IT professionals and told the victims that their Microsoft Windows firewall had failed, and that they would be susceptible to cyber-attack and identity theft. Victims were told their only option to protect themselves was to allow the caller to remotely access their computer and upload software, along with a lifetime protection “subscription”. The victims were then charged $400-$500 for the software and support.

 BBB research of the information has led investigators to two websites that appear to be part of the scam: http://globalsoftwaredesign-com.3dcartstores.com/ and https://sylvertechsolutions-com.3dcartstores.com/. These sites are virtual mirrors of each other, and both of the companies provide addresses that point to apartment complexes in Michigan. 

 While it is unclear how the fraudulent callers obtained the victims’ phone numbers, one victim said she became nervous when she realized, after several different phone conversations with the scammers, that there was no consistent caller ID for the calls. BBB consumer protection experts advised the victims to have their computers examined by a local, reputable IT professional.

Ann Pate, President of Computing Solutions Group, Inc. in Winston Salem, confirmed that the calls were in fact fraudulent. The callers claim to be solving a problem that, in reality, did not exist. When they gained access to the victims’ computers, they simply created a short-cut to the disc-cleanup function that is already included in Microsoft Windows, and then ran that program. The more worrying aspect of the scam is that they then left an invasive program on the computers that allows them to remotely access that computer, leaving the scammers an opportunity to steal banking and personal information. Luckily, Computing Solutions Group was able to assist in restoring that victim’s computer to safe operating condition.

This scam is especially malicious as it preys upon people’s uneasiness over computing and identity protection, and then attacks those very things. BBB offers these tips to help protect yourself against computing scams:

  • Never give control of your computer to a third party unless you know it is the representative of a computer support team you contacted.
  • Legitimate tech support companies will never contact you unsolicited claiming knowledge of problems with your system. 
  • Use technology from a reputable company to protect your devices. Use antivirus software and a firewall from a reputable company, and update it regularly. Enable pop-up blockers. Back up the content on your computer to a separate drive. If you are scammed, you can simply have your system wiped clean and reload your files. 
  • Be skeptical. Don't click on links in emails or download attachments you don't recognize. Watch out for typos, stilted language, grammatical mistakes, etc. If an email looks legitimate, but you are not sure, contact the company or organization through another method to ask if they sent the email.

 Consumers are also advised to call their BBB when in doubt. A quick phone call or webchat on bbb.org can save you from frustration, and protect your identity and money.