Tech Support? Yeah Right!

Last week at work, I had a discussion with one of our helpdesk technicians about a user who had called with a problem.  This user got a pop-up window (below) on his computer was detected with "possible Suspicious Activity" and provided a toll-free number for a "Microsoft-Certified technician" to help resolve the issue.

I actually called this number, and had a chat with the "Microsoft certified technician" on the other end (I wish I had recorded the call, but more on that in a minute).  She told me she was with a support company that helped people fix computer problems.  When I pressed her on the matter, she told me this was not a free service, but the support would cost me $99.  I asked, "How do I pay for it?"

"We'll open a form online where you can enter your credit card information," was her reply.

She wanted me to go to an online website and enter a code that she gave me that would allow the "technician" to remotely access my computer and fix the problem.  Once I got the address for the site, I hung up (this was the information I was looking for so we could block that on our network at work).  These folks actually called me back a few minutes after I hung up! (Persistent buggers...I ignored the call).

Ironically, yesterday my lovely wife called me at work.  She told me she got a pop-up message on her computer (a Mac) that said something very similar.  She actually copied and pasted the error message in an email to me:

Critical Security Warning! Your Mac is infected with a malicious adward attack.

Please contact apple support at (855) 559-5856 and provide error code QERROR.2314 to scan and resolve any potential threats to your personal and financial information, which was being tracked by suspicious connection.

Consequently we are performing additional security checks to verify the source of the attack and have halted all your system resources in order to prevent any additional damage to your system and information.

Please call customer service at (855) 559-5856 to resolve issues.

This time, I called the number and recorded the conversation (note: this is a different phone number than the one in the screenshot above, but the scam is the same).  You can listen to the call here if you are interested. (I guess Victor didn't like my questions because he hung up on me.)

Let me state emphatically, these are scams!  If you get a message like this on your computer, do not call the number!  These so-called "support" groups are not real.  They are at best looking to get your credit card number while performing fake and unnecessary "technical support" on your computer.  At worst, they'll install malicious software on your computer that allows them to gain access to it later, or allows your computer to be used for some other nefarious purpose.  If you get a message like this, DO NOT FALL FOR IT!