04 July 2012
Computer phone call scams targeting home users with genuine utility programs
Computer phone call scams, where you receive an anonymous phone call at home to tell you that your computer has been identified as not working correctly, has been around for a while. There are also several variations, including asking you to run some simple tests that use genuine Windows utility programs to ‘prove’ that your computer is faulty.
I’ve also heard that “Windows” are telephoning home users to inform them that their installation of Microsoft Windows is corrupt and can provide support over the phone. In each variation, the so-called “support” is only available after you provide payment details.
This is of course a scam and genuine technical support companies will not phone you at home, unless you ask. Simply because it’s not possible for an I.T. company to know that something is necessarily wrong with your computer, or your installation of Windows, including Microsoft.
Using diagnostic tools and tests
Of course, we’re used to the scams that involve scanning your computer, finding a list of non-existent problems and then demanding a payment to “fix” these problems. These telephone calls are a similar scam, attempting to trick you in to believing that something is wrong by asking you to perform a series of ‘tests’, like opening the Windows Task Manager. If you’re not aware of the Task Manager, this utility lists all the programs and services that are currently running on your system as well as giving information about the memory usage and performance of your processor (CPU). Most users, do not know what the Task Manager is or what to do with it. At the very best, some will only know how to use it to close a program that has stopped responding. To someone that hasn’t used it before, the various graphs and statistics could make it look very scientific and be easily duped by this type of scam.
Some reports indicate that the caller will ask the victim to open the Task Manager to check whether the CPU usage is too low or too high. When the CPU usage is low, it simply means the resource is not currently doing anything and is perfectly normal. On the other hand, should you be told that your CPU usage is too high, this could be due to having a large number of applications open and could be perfectly genuine. Windows works in the background to keep the CPU and memory usage at optimum levels and your antivirus software should detect anything abnormal. It is true to say that spyware and other malicious programs can use up large amounts of resources.
Don’t be fooled
If you do receive a suspicious phone call at home informing you that your computer is not working correctly, or something is wrong with your installation of Microsoft Windows, simply ignore the call. Don’t be fooled and don’t give out your payment details! In any case, if something was wrong with your computer, shouldn’t you be phoning Berserk Computers?