In June 2011 I had posted a somewhat off-topic warning about a security issue I had been encountering for months.
I had been receiving unsolicited calls from individuals with thick Indian accents claiming to be “Software Maintenance Department of Online PC Care” asking me to give them access to my computer because of some alleged virus infection.
This was of course a common con by that time, which also involved individuals claiming to represent Microsoft calling random numbers in Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom.
Basically they gained access, altered settings without the user’s knowledge and then proceeded to extort $49 to $450 from the user to “repair” the damage they had caused.
The Federal Trade Commission in the United States have taken legal actions against these fraudsters yesterday, freezing their assets and demanding a halt to this activity.
The Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission have also penalized the companies involved in this tech support scam in respect to Canada’s no call list legislation.
If you have received a call of this nature, please file a complaint with the CRTC via this form.
Warning – If you receive a call from someone claiming to be from the “Software Maintenance Department of Online PC Care“, do not give them any information and do not give them access to your computer.
I’ve been receiving calls from these India based scam artists and identity thieves for a while now. And the routine is generally the same.
They call you at random from an VOIP site based in the states and with an Indian accent claim to be calling people in your city in regards to software that is alledgely downloading material without your knowledge or consent.
They ask you for five minutes of your time and ask to gain access to your computer remotely to correct the alledged issue. Then they proceed to install malicious software on your machine, in essence creating the issue they claim to be correcting whilst gaining access to sensitive financial and/or personal information on your hard drive.
Basically they peddle anti-virus software that they first ask you to install and then later demand renewal fees for, which is usually upwards of $150. And they can claim you consented to all of this nonsense because they’ve recorded you, if they happen to have charged your credit card using information they got from your hard drive.
An online version of this scareware scam can also be found at certain sites, that install software through your internet browser. But of course there are plenty of more reasonably priced anti-virus programs out there, some of which i’ve listed under “Consumer Security” on my Consumer Links page.
Not only do these programs address the issue alledged by the con artists but Microsoft itself issues patches against these problems via their web site. And no, Microsoft does not call people over these issues.
They will of course alter their pitch at will in their attempts to gain access to your computer. But in the end the results are the same if you allow these people access ; An infected computer and a large credit card bill, at least.
Meanwile, you can address any concern in regards to any infection by using Microsoft Safety Scanner, which costs nothing and does not conflict with your existing anti-virus software.