There seems to be more and more unsolicited tech support calls these days, in an attempt to access unsuspecting victims pc’s. With the ability to fake Caller ID numbers (See the (LINK) “Don’t always trust what the Caller ID says” post), calling people seems like a great payoff with little risk if a bad guy can convince the victim to let them in.
(LINK) KKTV (http://www NULL.kktv NULL.com/home/headlines/Scammers_Use_Microsoft_Name_To_Gain_Access_Into_Computers_148412155 NULL.html) (based in Southern Colorado) just ran a story about someone who got one of these calls. The caller reportedly said he was from Microsoft.
As reported on the KKTV story, Microsoft released a statement about these types of calls that says
I can categorically confirm that neither Microsoft nor our partners make unsolicited phone calls to help solve your computer problems. If you receive an unsolicited phone call that purports to be from Microsoft and requests that you send personal information, hang up the phone.
Note the important part of the statement . “neither Microsoft nor our partners make unsolicited phone calls”.
In addition to the KKTV story, a post on (LINK) Tampa Bay Online (http://www2 NULL.tbo NULL.com/news/opinion/2012/apr/22/vwopino2-beware-unsolicited-tech-help-ar-394802/), reporting a call from someone claiming to work for “Windows” attempted to use the same type of scam with another person. In this case, the scam artist said
We have received some information from your computers via the Internet that some files are not working correctly, and we want to fix them for you at no charge
Fortunately in both of these cases, the persons who received the calls knew enough NOT to fall for scams like these. If you believe you may already fallen for a scam like these, you are going to want to check your pc, to see if there is anything there that shouldn’t be there. Here is a list of free programs you can use to scan your pc.
Microsoft Security Scanner (http://www NULL.microsoft NULL.com/security/scanner/en-us/default NULL.aspx) (As talked about in the KKTV Story)
SuperAntiSpyware (http://ninite NULL.com/malwarebytes-super/) (Via Ninite.com)
Malwarebytes (http://ninite NULL.com/malwarebytes-super/) (Via Ninite.com)
We do NOT know if the calls listed in the update above have any relation with the original post below that talks about the company called pcwizards. However, as noted above “neither Microsoft or its partners make unsolicited phone calls”. So the same way that you know NOT to click on an unknown link or open an unknown attachment, please be alert if you receive one of these unsolicited phone calls.
(Original 2/26/12 Story)
Every day I hear scam stories, however, one of these stories just hit close to home this week. The parents of a friend of mine received a phone call from a company calling themselves “PC Wizards”. The call went something like this
‘Sir, we have reason to believe that through your Windows operating system you have downloaded some malicious software from the internet which can cause serious damage to your computer and greatly impact upon system performance. We would be happy to dial into your pc and fix the problem for you’.
Fortunately, the person who got the call is the parent of a computer tech who does all the family tech support, so he knew better and did not fall for this scam. My friends dad did ask the person calling for a phone number, telling them “Ill have to call you back”. Using the company name and number given during the call, I came across the (supposed) website for this company, onlinepcwizards(dot)com (I did not put a link on their website address on purpose, as I do not wish to give this scam a link back). On the picture (below) you will see their website, the 1st thing I took note of is the US and UK flags (on the top right), depending on which flag you click on, the site will show either an 888 US number or an 808 UK number. (Even though the pictures below show the 2 phone numbers, again I recommend you have nothing to do with these people, Ill explain after the pictures)
When you click on the “contact us” link on their page, the site bring up an address in Southern California. If you do a map search for that address, you will find that address leads to an apartment building in that area.
I do understand that people can run “home based” businesses, but that’s not what they make it seem like. The following is a quote from the sites “About Us” page.
We offer a computer support experience unlike any other in the industry.
You want your computers and your home network to work without a hitch, but they sometimes don’t. So you try to get decent tech support, but it’s always a challenge – long wait times, tech jargon you don’t understand; buck-passing between manufacturers, and costly onsite service.
All that’s in the past. Welcome to PCWizards – your 24×6 personal tech advisor. We provide total tech support for PC & connected devices. We help you with installation, configuration, customization, troubleshooting, upgradation, connectivity issues and basic feature support. We’re the only ones you need to call, because we handle them all!
We don’t just resolve problems; we help you prevent them with good advice. In a nutshell, we make IT work for you.
With the growing dependency on our PC, an average user needs to access technical support at-least six times in a year. With connect times less than a minute PCWizards offers instant support whenever you need it, in the convenience of your home instantly.
PCWizards’ Microsoft Certified Technicians are on stand-by to help you anytime of the day. We provide computer repair, tech support to you irrespective of the make of your computer using windows operating system.
I guess 1st question is how many techs can you fit in an apartment (ok bad joke I know). Seriously a couple of things to point out from their About Us page. They are a 24×6 operation (hmmm hours seem a little strange), and if you read the about us carefully you will notice some grammatical issues. Can someone tell me what upgradation means?
Ok after all that, here are a few more details. Found interesting web posts on the following websites, where you will find numerous people who have received calls from PCWizards
- (LINK) 800notes (http://800notes NULL.com/Phone NULL.aspx/1-858-939-1002/5)
- (LINK) Ubuntu Forums (http://ubuntuforums NULL.org/showthread NULL.php?t=1635163)
- (LINK) Number Investigators (http://www NULL.numberinvestigator NULL.com/858939)
Many of the postings talk about a bait and switch where the company offers free service and at the end of the call they claim you owe money. Some of the posts even quote how the company admits to actually being located in India using US/UK numbers for easier access. These are just a couple of sites, there were numerous others I’m not listing with the same type of complaints.
On another front, here is the (LINK) Who IS (http://www NULL.whois NULL.net/whois/onlinepcwizards NULL.com) page for the PCWizards website
You will find that the website was registered on 10/7/2011 in Italy. (That is based on the fact that usually the privacy company listed is also the register of the domain).
Is it possible that PCWizards is a legit organization, maybe, but there are just to many things that make you go hmmmmmm. Do you really want to let a random total stranger (that you weren’t looking for) into your pc? Where they could install anything, or steal your data. I wouldn’t.
Lastly, this call identified themselves as PCWizards, but there are reports of other similar calls claiming to be from Microsoft, Apple, Adobe, and other major computer hardware/software makers.