Phishing attacks aren’t just limited to fraudulent emails. We’ve recently heard reports of scammers calling people on the phone, claiming to be from Microsoft (or some other well-known company), and telling potential victims that their computer contains a virus.
If the victim takes the bait, he or she is directed to a fraudulent website and told to enter a code. With that, the scammer gains total control over the victim’s computer. In addition to deleting files or installing malicious software, the scammer can read the victim’s personal files or configure the computer to store and distribute stolen software, adult material, or illegal content.
In many cases, the scammer will attempt to coerce payment from the victim to remove the non-existent virus or even to merely relinquish control of the machine.
If you unwittingly become a victim of this scam, contact law enforcement. To protect yourself from falling victim, do not cooperate with people calling you out of the blue claiming to be from tech support, especially if you don’t have a contract with tech support or a managed service provider. If you do have such a contract, verify the identity of the caller, the name of the company, and their phone number. A legitimate support personnel (like a trusty CMIT technician) should be happy to provide such information.