Friday, August 22, 2014

Scam Alert: Phone calls from Microsoft, Companies who pretend to be Microsoft, HP, Dell, Apple, etc..

In the last few months, many of my dear clients have been lured to give control of their computer to people who pose to be Microsoft technicians (or HP, Dell, or Apple support) and they pretend to find something wrong with your computer and try to sell you their services to clean your computer.  Please be very wary when someone on the phone wants to take control of your computer.  The modus operandi is they will ask to take control of your computer and they'll plant a virus or some kind of software that will show you fake messages indicating that your computer has hundreds of infected files, and then they'll ask you to purchase their services.  If you refuse to purchase their services, they will insist that the problem is very serious and the price they're giving you is even lower than it would normally cost you.

The typical traps are as follows:
  • You'll receive a phone call from someone pretending to be from Microsoft and they'll say they've detected some viruses coming from your computer.
  • You go online to Google, and search for "Microsoft Support" or "HP help" or "Dell Support" or "Apple Help" and you get search results with ads for companies that are pretending to be official representatives of these companies.   
  • Below are the search results and NONE of the phone numbers listed are for the companies they're pretending to be.  These companies are only out to victimize you and their only intention is to sell you their harmful software and services.






So how do you protect yourself?

If someone from Microsoft calls you, just hang up unless you actually have a friend from Microsoft who calls you once in a while.

If you need to contact Microsoft, HP, Dell, Apple or some other computer company, go to their website and find their phone number there.  Or if you prefer to search on Google, go further down the list and the correct phone number for these companies are usually listed further down on the search results.   

The key information is the website being listed.  Look at the actual website URL and you'll notice that microsoft.myphonesupport.com is really from a company called myphonesupport.com.  When looking at a website URL, take note of the last section of a URL before the "/".   For Microsoft, the address before the "/" should end in microsoft.com.  Be conscious of the "/" because some sites could use an address like "www.iyogi.com/apple.com" and that is still not an apple site as the last section before the "/" is really iyogi.com.

Ads on Google

These search results are really ads on Google.  You'll notice in the list above that there is a yellow label that spells "Ad" right before the website URL of these companies.  Unfortunately many users don't really notice that these are ads and Google places these ads at the top of the search results page for the sole purpose of giving these companies a higher chance to be noticed.  Google makes money when someone clicks on those ads, so the better the ad placement on the search results page, the more likely Google will make money.

I have no problem with Google trying to make money from their search pages, but when misleading ads can cause harm and damage to consumers, they should take some responsibility and block these kinds of ads.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

So glad to read this. We've had two such calls - one from Microsoft and another from Windows.