Update – September 2016: Over 5 years after we first reported this Windows support scam, variations of it are still targeting households by phone; either offering to clean up your PC for a fee, threats to stop access to your device unless you pay them, or installing software which spies on your actions.
It looks like there’s no end in sight for the Windows Support telephone scam that we reported on in the middle of last year.
As a reminder, households are receiving calls out of the blue from a so-called “Windows Support Centre”, often sounding like they’re from Indian call centres, who ask if your PC is running slowly, as they have detected a virus on it and would like to help you sort it out. For a fee of course.
Our post from last June has had over 100 comments from people receiving these calls, and in a few cases the recipients of the calls have been taken in, and handed over cash.
Costly and annoying certainly, but now it looks like there might be another similar tactic where the callers are actually installing software, whether it is genuine anti-virus software such as Kaspersky, or something more sinister like spyware which could potentially open you up to wider ID and bank fraud.
The Guardian says that this “takes the scam into new territory altogether, because it means that the scammers are now changing the setup of the computer, and while it’s still fraud, it also now strays into fields such as the Computer Misuse Act”.
It also has the following advice for anyone who has been taken in to the scam:
- contact your card issuer and get the transaction reversed
- report what happened to Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud reporting centre. It has its own page on Microsoft-related scams, as does Microsoft itself.
- contact the police so you can get a crime number.
If you’re targeted by such calls, it’s best to put the phone down straight away. The Guardian seems to think it is a single gang with 1 database of clients they’re working their way through, so you’re unlikely to get more than one of these calls, although if it’s making a profit, you can bet other gangs will be trying to do the same thing, so that might not be strictly true.
Or you could string them along and help to increase their phone bill.