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“Microsoft tech support” scam is picking up steam

Little more than a few days ago I got a call from a client with a problem. Not unusual or unexpected since he called into the support line, but this problem was different. Very different.

He told me he received a call from Microsoft tech support. They told him his computer was infected with viruses and they wanted to help clean it up. All they needed to do to fix the infection was remote into his PC, install a few programs and voila, it would be clean.

Now, since our clients are nice, trusting people and since this “Microsoft” employee called him on his phone he decided it was legitimate and followed this “tech support” person’s instructions. He downloaded a program that allowed this person to remotely take over his PC, and sat back to let them work.

A few minutes went by and that’s when a twinge of doubt sunk in.

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Something about the process didn’t feel right to him. Given that this person was a RollBack Rx user (the PC time machine) and longtime client, he decided to call the people who helped him with his computer problems in the past – us.

As soon as he explained the problem a burst of red flags emerged and wailing sirens screamed out. Calmly, I told the man this was a scam artist looking to do some damage. Then together we stepped through getting his PC back into his control.

After going over with this client that Microsoft would never cold call a customer, let alone ask to remote into their PC, he understood a bit better that trusting someone because they spoke to you on the phone wasn’t always the best decision.

Over the next several days after speaking with some friends and family members several of them said they had received this exact phone call. Most of them were tech-savvy enough to laugh and hang up, but some of them thought it was legitimate and almost allowed them to remote in.

This is a scam. Do not ever allow someone who calls claiming to be Microsoft tech support remote into your computer and start to install programs. I’ve read several articles online mentioning this scam, and if you allow it to go on eventually the hacker will either a) Collect sensitive data, or b) Inform you your PC is infected and tell you to deposit money into an account for a “clean-up” program, or possibly both. These are scam artists, preying on the trusting nature of people. Please, do not let these people do this, and tell others about it too.

As for our client who called, once he booted into his PC he was able to go into the RollBack Rx subconsole menu and return his computer to a pristine state using this instant recovery software. Luckily he called us in time, and luckily he was able to stop the remote session before any real damage was done. He went over his records with a fine-tooth comb and saw that this computer held very little sensitive data. Even so, it’s scary to think what might have been if he didn’t decide to give us a call. If you do receive this call you should report the phone scam immediately.

Remember, it never hurts to have plenty of desktop security software, to protect data from IT disasters, or in this case protect data from a scammer. If you don’t have RollBack Rx it’s worth noting that Microsoft has stopped supporting Windows XP, but RollBack XP is a freeware that many people are turning to to protect their systems still.

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