We received an interesting telephone call on a private line earlier today from a company called “ONLINE PC CARE” or something similar regarding recent errors on my computer that had been reported to Microsoft. Warning, this is a scam and you should not give them access to your computer or go to any websites.
The representative, who had an Indian accent, inquired if I had recently had popups on my Windows computer noting that an error had occurred and if I wanted to submit this information to Microsoft for Review. The representative went further to say they as an “official” partner of Microsoft that they had access to this information and were calling to assist in rectifying the errors. I further asked “If their company represented Microsoft”, the answer was “No”, however an “official partner”. Upon inquiring to the cost, they informed me that if the “software” was under warranty there would not be any costs and would otherwise inform me of the expense once the diagnosis was completed.
I politely informed the gentleman that I was not completely comfortable with allowing a 3rd party access to my PC or conduct a scan. He then informed me that, any unauthorized access would be considered “Hacking” and a “Federal Offense”. How would me allowing RDC (Remote Desktop connection), or the 3rd party mal-ware considered “authorization”? Regardless, I was curious and played along….
Q: Do I recall seeing any errors on my screen?
A: Not that I recall? But let’s be honest, it is Windows – of course there are errors. However, in MS’ defence Windows 7 is pretty stable.
Q: Was I aware that malicious software had been installed on my computer and was sending information over the Internet?
A: I was shocked, my computer infected? What can we do?
Q: Am I sitting in front of my computer now?
A: Yes, what would you like me to look at?
Q: Do you see the green “Start” icon in the bottom left?
A: I should have said yes, obviously they were looking for Windows XP based computers. Both Windows Vista and Windows 7 have a rounded Windows icon in the bottom right.
Q: CLICK – they hung up.
A: They could have been disconnected, but unlikely.
The moral of the story – THIS IS A FRAUD and a SCAM. Do not provide anyone calling anonymously about computer issues or repairs, provide a credit card, passwords, or personal information to phone solicitations, and more importantly do not install any software unless you know the source and legitimately.
For more information on this scam please visit the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre or read their Mass Market Fraud Trend Bulletin: Anti Virus Scams
Microsoft responds to the ongoing concern with the article “Help Protect Your Friends And Family From Phone Scams” with the following infographic. Click on the picture to see the full document.
These calls seem to come to every few options — always with a bit of a twist however with the same goal. The newest spin and a smart one to help provide some legitimacy was to read off a number associated with a CLSID which they described as a “Client License Server ID” and have us look at a textual list of indicators by going to to the windows command prompt and typing “ASSOC”. At the bottom of the very overwhelming list of information that flashes on the screen was the “unique identifier and proved he was from Microsoft and that I was “causing big problems” on the Internet.
Similar to the previous EVENT Viewer scams (have you type: eventvwr at CMD (Command) prompt, this CLSID is actually on nearly all computers and is not unique to your computer. In fact, if you right-click on any file you can find the reference to the for the “sendtotarget” for the Send To – > Compressed Zip Folder.