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Is this a scam? If so, how can I go about reporting it?

Posted on 2014-11-14
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Last Modified: 2014-11-15
I keep getting calls, from another country(I am in US) by the sound of the accent, telling me that my computer is sending error messages to their server, and that my anti-virus software is not working, that I am infected with ???? and to please sit down in front of my computer and they will tell me what to do. They mumble something about Microsoft Operating System, but deny working for the company when asked. I told them to stop calling me, but they continue. I can't really understand what they are saying because of the accent, but am very upset that they continue to do this. Has anyone else experienced something like this? How can I report them? It feels like a terrible scam.....I don't know if they are trying to sell me software or worse, get their hands on my personal information(or more of it).

Let me know.
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Question by:sheana11
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by:johnsone
ID: 40442493
Total scam.

You can try reporting it to the FTC here ->https://complaints.donotcall.gov/complaint/complaintcheck.aspx

I'm not sure how much good it will do, but it may make you feel better.

They tried to get relatives of mine with this scam too.  Something about there is a problem with their computer and they will help them fix it.  The computer wasn't even on at the time.
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by:aadih
ID: 40442795
FWIW: After a few calls (about 2-a-day for about three days) they stopped when I let them know that it's a scam and I'll not fall for it.
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BillDL earned 2000 total points
ID: 40442836
>>> "I don't know if they are trying to sell me software or worse, get their hands on my personal information(or more of it)" <<<

The scam is usually done by people in India.  As you say, they usually try to loosely infer that they work for Microsoft, your Internet Service Provider, or dome similar organisation.

The most common method is that they get you to type a web address into your browser.  This will be to either use a website (for example LogMeIn) or to download and install a pre-configured application (eg. UltraVNC single-click used by companies to supply genuine remote support to clients) that allows them to gain remote access to your computer as though they were sitting in front of it.

The scammers will do anything to create fear in the computer owner's mind and support the reason for their phony call.  You can see the screen while they are tinkering around, but a significant number of the people who are scammed do not really know what the scammer is actually doing.

A common tactic is to run some kind of bogus software to supposedly find malicious files and activity.  Just about any legitimate malware scanning software is always going to find "potentially unwanted programs" (including trashy browser toolbars) and relatively harmless "tracking cookies" on even a well maintained Windows computer, and most people don't know that the software is just finding quite normal traces left on the computer.  The orange or red warning icons is usually enough to alarm people.

Another tactic might be to open the computer's "Event Viewer" where just about every Windows computer is going to show red X icons for processes that didn't work the first time around.  This can look very alarming to people who have never seen this kind of thing before.

The scammers have also been known to deliberately tinker with settings or delete files so that errors pop up.  Most peoples' computers didn't really have anything wrong with it to start with.

After frightening the computer user into believing that they have a virus, or some other important problem, they will try to get you to part with money so that they can "fix" your computer.  Usually nothing is done after credit card payment is made, however they could easily also install malicious programs to aquire personal data before departing with their easily made money.

Here are some articles about this scam:

https://nakedsecurity.sophos.com/2011/06/16/study-reveals-scale-of-fake-tech-support-call-scams/

news.microsoft.com/2011/06/16/microsoft-survey-reveals-extent-of-emerging-internet-phone-scam/

https://nakedsecurity.sophos.com/2013/11/22/ftc-fights-the-cybercrooks-who-put-cryptolocker-to-shame/

http://blogs.microsoft.com/cybertrust/2013/05/23/how-to-combat-tech-support-phone-scams/

https://nakedsecurity.sophos.com/2014/10/26/ftc-takes-down-fake-support-scammers-upbeat-about-getting-consumers-money-back-poll/

United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Bureau of Consumer Protection:
http://www.ftc.gov/about-ftc/bureaus-offices/bureau-consumer-protection
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by:aadih
ID: 40442849
The scam is usually done by people in India.

How sure are you of this?
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by:BillDL
ID: 40442894
Hmm.  Yes, perhaps I should have said "people FROM India".  I based my generalisation on the 20 or so calls that I have received, and the numerous accounts given by other people including family members.  I know an Indian or Pakistani accent when I hear it, having been exposed to it on a day-to-day basis, but yes, they could easily be living in other countries.

I am also pretty sure that some crooks from the Ukraine, Romania, and elsewhere are also in on the scam too.
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by:aadih
ID: 40442963
I know an Indian or Pakistani accent when I hear it, having been exposed to it on a day-to-day basis, but yes, they could easily be living in other countries.

How sure are you of your expertise in recognizing accents from different countries?

How is your generalization important (to know)?
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by:BillDL
ID: 40443036
My generalisation is no more important to know other than the fact that every single person from the Indian sub-continent that I have ever had to speak with in a call centre has been pushy and has tried to talk right through me.  In context with the question and the nature of this scam, the inference is that you are likely to get a pushy person on the phone and that it may be hard to speak through a barrage of conversation in an accent that may be difficult to understand.

Given that a very significant proportion of UK call centres at some point outsourced to Bombay (Mumbai), we in the UK have had our fair share of exposure to speaking over the phone with Indian people, their accents, and the idiosyncrasies of their speech.  Almost a quarter of the population of some areas of London, where many company head offices are located and where we have to call, comprises people of Indian ethnicity.  I work alongside 7 people from India (not Indo-Brits), all of whom are very direct speakers and like to enforce their own opinions.

If you feel that my generalisation is a racial slur or is unimportant, then ask for it to be removed or do so yourself if you have admin rights.
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by:aadih
ID: 40443073
If you feel that my generalisation is a racial slur or is unimportant, then ask for it to be removed or do so yourself if you have admin rights.

You say it.  Not I.

[You can ask for it to be removed if you are uncomfortable. I am okay.]
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LVL 39

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by:BillDL
ID: 40443087
This will be my last post on this particular subject:

Press Release by The Federal Trade Commission on July 24, 2014
http://www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/2014/07/federal-court-orders-tech-support-scammers-pay-more-51-million

"The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York issued default judgments against fourteen corporate defendants and fourteen individual defendants that allegedly operated the tech support scams.  The operations were mostly based in India and targeted English-speaking consumers in the United States and several other countries."
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Author Closing Comment

by:sheana11
ID: 40443538
Thorough answer. Thanks for sharing.
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by:BillDL
ID: 40443619
Thank you sheana11.
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by:Gary
ID: 40444656
I always play along with this scam, usually get bored after about 20 minutes or until they realise I know what they are (your website is not working, I'm on a Mac etc) which is usually followed by a barrage of insults - but stops them trying to con someone else for a little while.

There's some funny recordings regarding this particular scam on YouTube
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