December 10, 2014
When scams come to us in the form of emails that land in our inbox, they are called “phishing” emails. But scammers don’t just use email to trick us into disclosing personal information or accessing our money. They will use other technology as well, such as phones.
One version of a phone scam comes in the form of technical support. You get a call from someone claiming to be from Microsoft, for example. They tell you they want to help to solve a computer problem or sell you a software license. But this what they are really doing:
- They trick you into installing malicious software.
- The software you have installed allows them to take over your computer.
- After you install the software, they charge you to remove it.
- They trick you to visit a fraudulent site where they ask you to enter your credit card number or other personal information.
Neither Microsoft nor any legitimate business will make these types of unsolicited phone calls. But it is easy to be fooled; the criminals use publicly available phone directories, so they might know your name when they call you.
What you can do:
Do not trust unsolicited phone calls offering tech support. Do not provide any personal information. Do not allow people making unsolicited calls to access your computer over the phone to “fix it.”
The numbers: A recent survey by Microsoft shows that PC owners are under constant attack for their personal information but that people are wising up and not taking the phishing bait. The report found that 42% of Americans experience attempts to gain access to their PC, while 28% reports attacks via landline phones, 22% via tablets, and 18% via mobile phones.