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. 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”, 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”. Now 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’ defense 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 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 at: www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca or read their Mass Market Fraud Trend Bulletin: Anti Virus Scams.