When you need help for your computer, there are plenty of choices. Some of those choices are scammers. Yes, there are still scammers, and the situation has gotten worse. Be alert, and protect yourself.
Our story so far
Way back around 2008 (a million years in Internet Time) Windows users started receiving phone calls from phony “Microsoft Technicians” or “Windows Security.” The caller claims that your computer is infected and that their Microsoft Certified Technician can fix the problem.
They talk you into granting them remote access, show you a pile of “errors” and convince you to pay a lot of money to fix and protect the computer. They get your credit card information. Your card is charged, but worse yet, sometimes that information is sold to other people and your identity is stolen.
This scam is still going on. Please know that if you receive a call like this it is always a scam. Microsoft will never call you out of the clear blue sky about a problem.
More devious moves
Eventually the scammers started buying ads in online search engines like Bing and Google. When searching for help, you can be directed to legitimate-looking sites promising to speed up, clean up or fix your computer. They have legit-looking logos. They have toll-free numbers to call.
These sites can look like a legitimate company. I’ve seen them for well-known antivirus/antimalware products as well as for Windows. I have several customers who thought they were calling the cable company and instead were calling into these rogue sites.
The idea is always the same: Gain access to your computer and scrape data in the background while they sell you something and get your credit card information.
Now, there’s fake Microsoft Security Essentials
And the scammers have ramped it up again. Microsoft issued a bulletin earlier this month warning of a new tech support scam. This starts with a download purporting to be for Microsoft Security Essentials. The malicious software is called Hicurdismos, and once installed it disables Task Manager to prevent you from killing it off, hides the mouse cursor to make you think the system isn’t responding, and then displays a blue I screen that mimics the Stop Error screen in Windows 10. Unfortunately, this screen adds a toll-free number to call, and if you do, it’s those fake technicians again. More about Hicurdismos here.
Run Windows Defender Offline to get rid of the infection. You’ll need to download it from another, non-infected PC. Follow the link near the bottom of this page to the download.
Not just Windows computers anymore
Mac, iPhone, and Android users are targets, too. Scary “notices” pop up while you’re looking at a website telling you your computer is infected and telling you to call a toll-free number. If you’re using an Apple device, it will say it’s Apple support. Android users get the Android variant of the ad. It is always a scam. Don’t fall for it!
Do you need help with your computer? I’m here to help you and your home or business computer get along!
Cate Eales runs Computer Care Kelowna a mobile service helping home users and businesses get along with their computers. To arrange an appointment phone her at 250-764-7043. Cate also welcomes your comments and suggestions. Send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Avoid Tech Support Phone Scams https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/safety/online-privacy/avoid-phone-scams.aspx
Microsoft Malware Protection Center – Hicurdismos https://www.microsoft.com/security/portal/threat/encyclopedia/Entry.aspx?Name=SupportScam:MSIL/Hicurdismos.A
Beware of Hicurdismos: https://blogs.technet.microsoft.com/mmpc/2016/10/21/beware-of-hicurdismos-its-a-fake-microsoft-security-essentials-installer-that-can-lead-to-a-support-call-scam/
Windows Defender Offline https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/17466/windows-defender-offline-help-protect-my-pc
Computer Care Kelowna http://computercarekelowna.com/
Getting Along With Your Computer Column Archives http://www.castanet.net/news/Getting-Along-With-Your-Computer/
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