Last night I received what I consider a suspicious phone call aimed at getting access to my computer. It started out sounding as a legitimate tech support phone call and quickly turned into not being so. The person on the phone made the following claims:
- That I filled out a survey for tech support with my computer
- That I filled out a survey for tech support for software
- The call was a follow up for technical support for an issue I had previously
- They have a Microsoft certified technician waiting for access to my computer to diagnose problems
At no time could they tell me:
- When I filled out the survey
- What details I filled out in the survey
- Specific software name I had an issue with
- Brand name of the computer I had an issue with
- What company they were calling on behalf of
- What computer type I had an issue with: laptop, desktop, tablet, smart phone, etc.
They were however very insistent and repeated the following sentences more than once:
- Microsoft certified technician
- Are you in front of your computer to grant access?
- Free scan of the computer to determine what issues there are
- How many computers do you have?
- That I contacted them and they were responding to my contact
It was only after I insisted several times did they tell me a name of a company that they claimed to be associated with. A name that I did not recognize and based on the pricing for services on their website would not have requested their help. The only way to contact the company is to fill out a form and request to sign up for one of their plans at the same time asking for help. The required fields on the form included: name, email, phone, chose a plan to sign up for, describe the technical issue, and check the device type i.e. computer, laptop, or tablet, etc.
If I actually had an issue that was beyond my ability to resolve on my own I would be filling in all fields on a tech support form. Including a complete description of the issue and I would check the device type accurately. These are not things that I would be extremely vague about. Granted other people might be. Suffice it to say in a field labeled “what is the issue” I would never write “software issue”, which I told them that. At that moment the story changed to “this is follow up on past issue”.
When I told them that if I actually filled out a survey then it would have my email address and they could email me a letter and verify who they are and what technical issue I had, they gave me a website address and said I could find all the information about my ticket there. However, when I went there it was not possible to find out anything more than some basic company information. The phone number the person called from and the phone number on the website didn’t even match. I doubt the person actually works for the company.
There is a scene from a movie where the identity thief calls up the unsuspecting victim. She tells him that they caught an issue with his credit card and for free they can monitor for future issues. All they need from him is all of his personal information, which he hands over. This situation with the computer technical support was like that. I hadn’t contacted them. They called me out of the blue and could not verify even basic information, or when questioned about statements could not explain and resorted to other statements. Companies that offer technical support should be able to give you the information that they claim you gave them to initiate the phone call. For example, he should have been able to give me an exact date, an exact issue, an exact computer type, and the exact email address I supposedly gave to them. All he could do was insist that I had contacted them at some point in the past month or so and they needed me to give them remote access to my computer.
With remote access to a computer you are allowing the person to access your computer through the firewall. It is basically opening up a door to the computer that the person using the software on the other end can then walk through. This is not an option that should be given to just any person or company. Especially one that operates like this one did.
To make sure your remote access assistant is turned off for Windows XP, Vista, and 7:
- Press the start menu
- Click Control Panel
- Search Control Panel for Remote Access (optional)
- Click on System Properties, or just System
- Click on Advanced System Properties
- Click on the Remote tab on System Properties screen
- Uncheck the “allow remote assistance connections”
- If the option is there, click the radial button next to “Don’t allow connections to this computer”
- Click Apply
- Click OK