I’ve been hearing more and more stories from clients I have worked for and from other techs who do what I do for a living. People are getting phone calls from a call center filled with employees that only have East Indian accents (for now) claiming to work for Microsoft/your ISP/some company you’ve never heard of/etc. telling you that your computer is infected with a virus and that they would like to help you remove it… for $130 or so, or whatever they charge your card if you actually give it up to them.
However, it is often a scam that is based upon social engineering. Social Engineering is a term used to describe the act of manipulating a person into believing you’re not a con-artist, or something like that. Someone calls you out of the blue telling you that your computer is infected, that they’ve been receiving “signals” or whatever from your computer that indicate you are infected with a virus. They tell you they work for someone like Microsoft and their tone of voice is rather urgent and often outright rude. They’ll tell you to do things to your computer that you likely never do on a regular basis, like press the Windows button + R (which brings up the run menu) and type some command into your computer, all of this in the hopes of convincing you that they are who they claim to be. I’ve never called a psychic on the phone before… but if they were to call me out of the blue and use their “cold reading” skills to try to trick me into thinking I had a virus on my computer, talked me into putting a virus on my computer and/or simply insist that give them my credit card number to see me through some false peril… well that’s what you’ve got here.
If you get a phone call from anybody claiming to be from “tech support” or Microsoft or any handful of other places/companies, be on your guard. It’s right along the lines of getting an email “from your bank” asking you to reply with your social security number, account number and passcodes to confirm your identity or something fishy like that. Better yet, if you are already certain your computer is just fine and have a little experience with the computer, flat out waste their time for your own entertainment (if you have the time to spare). You don’t even have to be at your computer. Tell them to “hang on” and put the phone down for a few minutes; make some coffee or a sandwich. When they’re talking interrupt and say you didn’t understand them, then put the phone down again. Maybe you have a Macintosh or run Linux; would’t that be ironic. Use your imagination, or just hang up. In any case, be aware that there are scam artists out there calling random number trying to find someone who will fall for their manipulations.