As illustrated in this topic on the Microsoft Answers forum, the issue of fake tech support telephone calls has been a problem for over two years. The scams appeared to have originated in the U.K., spread to Australia, followed by Canada and the United States.
Although reports in various forum topics have pointed fingers at other vendors, in the instant case, the finger was pointing at "Comantra" who was a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner.
Comantra, like other vendors, was said to have cold-called people, implying that they represent Microsoft. After convincing the call recipients that the errors seen in Event Viewer on Windows are dangerous, the technicians would attempt to convince the people to allow the technicians to have remote access to their computer. Repairs, of course, required a credit card charge.
About Microsoft Gold Certified and Certified PartnersIt is important to understand that being a Microsoft Partner, in any shape, whether Certified or Gold Certified, does not mean that the company represents Microsoft. Rather, it merely means that the company has met the requisite requirements, has paid the requisite fee and has earned the appropriate Partner Points for the Partner level. The requirements for both Microsoft Gold Certified and Microsoft Certified Partners are fully described at the eHow.com references below.
In addition to the above, Microsoft Gold Certified Partners must employ a minimum number of Microsoft certified professionals, meet the certification and sales requirements and submit competency-specific customer referrals.
Microsoft Certified Partners additionally complete one of three requirements (i.e. employ or employ by contract at least two Microsoft Certified Professionals, with three customer references approved by Microsoft or product software that Microsoft has tested and approved or hardware that a Microsoft authorized testing vendor has approved.)
How to handle telephone scamsIf you receive a call from someone claiming to be representing Microsoft or Microsoft tech support, just hang up! Microsoft does not make unsolicited calls.
In the event you have been taken in by one of the fake tech support calls, it is strongly recommended that you take the following steps:
- Change the passwords or PINs on your computer and your online accounts.
- Place a fraud alert on your credit reports.
- If you know of any accounts that were accessed or opened fraudulently, close those accounts.
- Routinely review your bank and credit card statements monthly for unexplained charges or inquiries that were not initiated by you.
People in Australia, Canada, U.K. and U.S. appear to have been hardest hit by telephone tech support scams. The links below have additional information and resources.
- AU: SCAM Watch
- CA: Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre
- UK: National Fraud Authority.
- US: Consumer Fraud Reporting
- Microsoft dumps Gold partner accused of scamming customers
- Microsoft dumps partner over telephonescam claims | Naked Security
- Microsoft dumps partner over support call scam | News | PC Pro
- What is a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner? | eHow.com
- Microsoft Certified Partner Requirements | eHow.com
- Avoid scams that use the Microsoft name fraudulently | Microsoft Security
- 08Mar2010 Don’t fall for phony phone tech support - Security Tips & Talk - Site Home - MSDN Blogs
- 26Aug2010 Microsoft issues warning on phone scam, Security and Privacy, News Centre | Microsoft Australia
- 16May2011 Local news says, “Those calls are not coming from Microsoft” - Security Tips & Talk - Site Home - MSDN Blogs
Articles illustrative of the on-going telephone scam problem:
- Bogus Support Organizations use Live Operators to Install Malware
- Police close in on PC support fraudsters
- Sunbelt Blog: Help desk phone scams are alive and well
- Virus phone scam being run from call centres in India | Technology | The Guardian
- Canadians increasingly defrauded by fake tech support phone calls | Naked Security
- ISC Diary | Microsoft Support Scam (again)