Today, one of the accounts staff received an email from our boss’s mother. She said that she received a call from a lady named Stacey who told her she was calling from “Microsoft Customer Care”. Stacey advised her they found out that everytime she turned on her computer, she was having a malicious problem with the hard drive. Stacey went on to say that they could fix it for her. She was trying to get her to press some buttons to prove her case.
Luckily, our boss’s mother has a “high class IT on hand” 😛 and didn’t want to believe them. She asked them for their number (which is 02 8003 5397) and said she would call them back later. She immediately sent the email to our account staff and asked for our advice. We immediately told her that it was a scam.
To prove our point, we even made a dummy call to this ‘so called’ Microsoft Customer Care and told them that our hard drive had a malicious problem, as advised by Stacey. They tried to get our landline number. We told them that we didn’t have a landline as we only had a mobile (which has blocked ID on it of course). We asked them why they needed to call us back and why they couldn’t just try to fix it right now? So here are the ‘so called’ steps that they ask you to go through to make you believe that your computer is infected (or has a problem).
The Microsoft Customer Care Scams (Fraud) Process
Step 1. Press the “Windows” and R buttons simultaneously.
Step 2. Type in eventvwr
Step 3. Under the windows logs, click on the arrow next to it to expand it.
Step 4. Look for Application (or System)
*Please note that this is for windows 7 and vista; on XP, it is directly under “Event Viewer (local)”, and it is already open.
Step 5. Do you see any Yellow or Red Symbols? This means that your computer is infected.
Step 6. Go to logmein123.com, enter a PIN (that they will give you) and press OK. They will then fix it for you.
Furthermore, they will try to get you to give them your credit card details and sign you up for some support of some kind. They are as follows:
1 year support – $110.
2 years support – $180.
Lifetime support – $360.
Explanation of the Microsoft Customer Care Scams/fraud
Now, allow me to explain what they are trying to get you to do.
Step 1. This will bring up the Run box (this is where you can try to open up some app directly). This step is fine.
Step 2, 3 and 4. This will open up the event viewer, which is kind of an audit of your computer. They record information (applications, Systems, etc) about your computer and what may be going on. (None of your personal information is being recorded.)
Step 5. It is normal to have these Yellow (warnings) and Red (Errors). I know you start to worry when you have some errors (the red ones), some of them can be ignored (but I don’t mean that all of them should be ignored as some of them are genuine errors). If you are not sure, either search the error message online or ask an IT Tech who you personally know, or the tech at your local computer shops.
Step 6. Logmein123 is a remote application for them to get onto your computer.
Either they will fix it or not we don’t know (some people suggested that they will remote into your computer and then download a free application that will scan and remove any malware off your computer, but we don’t really know as we didn’t get to that point)
All we know is they want credit card details to proceed. We didn’t give these to them for obvious reasons. Further research online has proved our case as this website suggested: http://whocallsme.com/Phone-Number.aspx/0280035397
Please note that these people may use different names and also their company name.
How to avoid the Microsoft Customer Care Scams
Some (silly) questions that you should ask yourself to avoid being scammed by them are:
- Do you have a windows computer? (some people has a mac or has linux installed on their system, but they still receive calls from the “Microsoft Customer Care” Reps.)
- How did they find out that your computer was infected? (There would be some privacy issues if they know whenever you have a problem on your computer, when you didn’t give them any permission to monitor your computer.)
- What application did they use to find out that you have issues with your computer?
- Ask them if they can tell that your computer is on right now or not. (This will only be a lucky guess for them).
- Ask them for your computer name (you can find it under Systems in your Control Panel.)
- Who they “really” are and what is their phone number. (They don’t usually give it to you.)
- How did they get your phone number, contact details, etc? (Same as above. I don’t think they will tell you.)
I sincerely believe that if they were able to find out that your computer was infected, they would have some sort of application installed on your computer to monitor it. This begs another question; when would they have installed the application on your computer and how would they have done it? If they can’t answer these questions above, then they are just trying their luck. They know that many people nowadays have a personal computer with the Windows Operating System installed as the default system. And as for the warnings and errors in the event logs, you will often see them in there…Some are fine to ignore, others I would recommend to investigate, but this is a topic for another day.
Conclusion of this little Microsoft Customer Care Scams experiment
After we advised her that it was a fraud/scam (before we called the “Microsoft Customer Care” to play with them), the girl called back to try to “fix the mysterious issue”. Our boss’s mother advised the lady that she had not only talked to her Technicians, but had also called Microsoft themselves and that she was sure that this “Microsoft Customer Care” call was a scam. She also advised the lady that she had reported them to the government scam watch. The lady told her, “Thank you m’am, no worries” and then hung up.
To people who have a good knowledge in the IT industry, we already know that it was a scam, but to anyone who doesn’t know much about computers, they may panic and will do anything to fix their computer. This is not the first time we’ve heard about this scam and we don’t think it will be the last either. We don’t even know if the government can do anything more at this stage, but we hope that everybody out there is careful and won’t get scammed that easily.
We would recommend everyone to store this number (02 8003 5397) on their mobile phone just in case they call you later. Make sure you give it a good name like SCAMS! Microsoft Customer Care or Microsoft Customer Care Scams on your phone so you can avoid talking to them in the future.
We hope that you will share this with as many people as possible so they are aware of this. Thanks.
Alternatively, you can contact me if you have any queries.
UPDATE: They are also doing this in other countries too. I’ve been told they are using the phone number 02030515753 in the UK.
Some names they may call themselves:
- Consult PC Experts
- Global IT Protection
- Global IT Technicians
- Global PC Protection
- Microsoft Customer Care
- Microsoft Tech Care
- Microsoft Tech Support
- Online PC Experts
- Silicon Solution
- Windows Customer Care
Please note that some of the companies above are legitimate companies, but the fact is, they don’t actually cold call you if you have an issue with your computers (unless you have some sort of Managed Service Agreement with them and you have been dealing with them before).
Some Phone numbers they may use
- 02 8003 5397
- 02 8005 1246
- 02 6211 5032
- 03 9018 7738
- 02030515753 (UK)
- 315 633 4050
- 646 867 3751
- 646 867 3791