Better Business Bureau: Callers claim to be Microsoft tech support, trying to gain access to your computer

CONTACT: Susan Bach, Director of Communications
PHONE: 414- 847- 6085
FAX: 414-302- 0355
E-MAIL: [email protected]

Milwaukee, Wis. – Mar. 15, 2012 –The Wisconsin Better Business Bureau (BBB) is alerting consumers of a phone scam in which the caller claims to be from Microsoft. The caller offers to solve a consumer’s computer problems or sell him or her a software license, all in an effort to gain remote control access to the consumer’s computer.

Three business owners in Northeast Wisconsin have received phone calls from someone who claims to be a “Microsoft employee”, and who told the owners that their computers were infected with a virus and were sending out spam. The scammers were calling from 857-366-7172, a phone number which traces back to an online company, The Tech Care. On its website, The Tech Care has three customer testimonials from Wisconsin residents, which could be a sign that the scammers are targeting Wisconsinites, according to the BBB.

Pam Webster called the BBB to report that she, too, had received a phone call from a “Microsoft employee”, who told her she had a computer virus. From almost the instant the conversation started, Webster realized this call was not made with good intentions.

“The man identified himself as being from Microsoft tech support and said he had identified that my computer had a virus,” Webster said. “He directed me to go to my computer and proceeded to give me directions to ‘get rid of the virus.’”

Webster, who works with computers on a daily basis, realized almost immediately that the directions being given were the same steps she follows when her IT department needs full, remote access to her computer.

Webster did not allow the caller to proceed any further.

According to Microsoft, once these scammers have access to the computer they can install malicious software, steal personal information, take control of the computer remotely or direct consumers to fraudulent websites where they are asked to enter their credit card information.

Microsoft’s Online Safety and Security Center states that neither Microsoft nor its partners make unsolicited phone calls.

Here are some of the organizations that cybercriminals claim to be from:

* Windows Helpdesk

* Windows Service Center

* Microsoft Tech Support

* Microsoft Support

* Windows Technical Department Support Group

* Microsoft Research and Development Team (Microsoft R & D Team)

BBB advises consumers follow these tips to protect themselves from scammers attempting to access their computer:

* Go through your service provider directly. If you are concerned your computer may be exposed to viruses or other security threats, contact your service provider directly. Some providers offer free tools that can help detect and remove viruses.

* Install virus detection. To help protect your computer from viruses make sure you have virus detection software installed on your computer. This software can also help identify if a virus appears on your computer.

* Don’t trust cold calls. Never give out personal information, over the phone, to someone you don’t know. If the caller claims there is a security threat to your computer, hang up and call your computer company directly.

* Find a computer repair company you can trust. Go to BBB Member Pages to find a BBB Accredited Business you can trust.

To check the reliability of a company and find trustworthy businesses, visit bbb.org .

For more information or further inquiries, please contact the Wisconsin BBB at http://www.wisconsin.bbb.org or 414-847-6000 (metro Milwaukee), 920-734-4352 (Appleton), 608-268-2221 (Madison) or 1-800-273-1002 (elsewhere in Wisconsin).

About BBB

BBB is an unbiased non-profit organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Businesses that earn BBB accreditation contractually agree and adhere to the organization’s high standards of ethical business behavior. BBB provides objective advice, free business BBB Reliability ReportsTM and charity BBB Wise Giving ReportsTM, and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust. To further promote trust, BBB also offers complaint and dispute resolution support for consumers and businesses when there is difference in viewpoints. Although the first BBB was founded in 1912, the Wisconsin BBB began in 1939. Today, 125 BBBs serve communities across the U.S. and Canada, evaluating and monitoring more than four million local and national businesses and charities. Please visit http://www.bbb.org for more information about BBB.