IT Department Tech Bulletin

From the Office of the Calumet City IT Department

Remote Support Scam

If you or someone you know is receiving unsolicited calls concerning a computer malfunction or bank error, beware that it may be part of a costly scam. The callers and reported malfunctions may vary but the goal is usually to scare the victim into turning over remote control of their computer to the callers. Once this happens the caller may request money for “repairs” or to “recover data” and may infect the computer with harmful viruses or spyware even after the victim pays. These “fees” can often outweigh the cost of the computer itself or legitimate repairs, but it can be difficult to put a price on personal data. There are several versions of this scam going around but the most prevalent scammers identify themselves as the IRS or Microsoft. Some of the hallmarks of these scams can be:

  • During the initial call, the scammers will pretend to be a trusted company such as Apple or Microsoft and may try to use lots of tech terms to confuse the victim
  • They may have you open files or windows logs and tell you there are critical errors (even though they may be normal errors)
  • Once they have control of your computer they may try to sell you different software that may look or sound legitimate but is completely useless
  • The callers may also offer costly “maintenance” or “warranty” plans or data backup and recovery services that are also fake or harmful
  • These scams will usually ask to be paid through pre-paid cards or e-currency that can be very difficult to trace or reverse
  • This scam may also show up through internet popup windows that may have sound effects and display fake error logs while directing you to call a number or take you to a harmful website

There are several ways to avoid or altogether prevent the damage this scam can inflict. The best advice is if you receive a phone call from someone claiming to be from a company about your computer, hang up and report it to Microsoft and other companies have no way of knowing if you’re experiencing technical problems, you must go to them. If you seem to be getting a lot of pop ups or you’re not sure if you clicked a real window or not, stop and take your computer to a trusted professional to be checked out. A legitimate diagnostic will cost much less than a phony “repair”.