Thursday, October 04, 2012

FTC Action Against Fake Tech Support Scams

Since early in 2009, people have been harassed by telephone scams by telemarketers claiming to represent Microsoft and other vendors such as Dell, McAfee and Norton.  The telemarketing scammers attempt to convince the call recipient that malware has been detected on their computer which they can, of course, remove for a hefty fee.

The attempted "proof of infection" is normal and generally harmless error messages in the Event Log, completely unrelated to any indication of infection.

With October being National Cyber Security Awareness Month, the timing of the announcement by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) yesterday that, at FTC request, a U.S. District Court Judge ordered a halt to six alleged tech support scams pending further hearings and has frozen their assets (see October 3, 2012 List of Commission Actions) was ideal.

The United States has not been alone in being harassed by fake tech support scammers.  Australian, Canadian and U.K. citizens have also been targets as has New Zealand and Ireland  It was through the combined efforts of the Australian Communications Authority, Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission and United Kingdom’s Serious Organised Crime Agency that the FCC was able to take this action.

Knowledge is Key

Although the action by the FCC will most certainly help, the problem is not eliminated.  Should you receive an unsolicited telephone all from someone purporting to be from Microsoft (or any other vendor), the best advice is to just hang up! Microsoft does not make this type telephone call.

In the event you have been tricked by one of these fake tech support scammers and logged on to a third-party website so they could remotely access your computer, malware may have been installed on your computer to allow remote access.  This could have provided the scammers with access to steal personal and financial details from your computer.  Update your antivirus software and complete a full system scan.

If you supplied credit card information, in addition to contacting your credit card company, notify the appropriate government agency:

New Zealand:

Not only during National Cyber Security Awareness Month, but every day Stop | Think | Connect.


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