The Microsoft Window’s Service Center scam is something that has been active for quite a while. It all starts with a phone call with an overtly helpful customer care person at the other end. The main pitch is that there have been complaints from the user’s internet service provider stating the existence of a severe problem with the computer with respect to viruses. The how’s and why’s of the contact between the service provider and the service center is usually left to the victim’s imagination, which in most cases gets slowed down upon hearing the two terms “Microsoft” and “virus”.
The ploy has always been based around offering help to the user by asking them to open up Windows Event Viewer to check all recent activities and then downloading a cleanser program from a particular website. An offer of remotely controlling the machine from the caller’s side is also offered to ease the process. Upon downloading the cleanser program however the only thing that happens is that a malware gets installed on to the victim’s machine, which apart from showing that there are a huge number of viruses on the machine, also makes sure to collect all of the user’s personal data from the computer. The malware is also quite apt at concealing its true purpose as it is supposed to cling on to the machine and record all of the victim’s future online correspondences and data entries.
Apart from that what’s stated above, the other side of the card is not uncommonly, money. If someone provides a service, they are sure to charge for it as well. The repair fee is definitely quite exorbitant considering the irony of the word “repair” and to add to the woes of the victims- there never exists a way to get their money back upon their vivid of the scam.
The Works of the Trade
It is usual for a lot of computer users to have viruses on their machines. Computers might get slowed down and its performance might be hampered as well. It is however of absolute importance to use anti-virus softwares to clean up the mess instead of relying on distant phone calls offering help for the same.
The way the scam works is that internet users often end up downloading malwares on to their machines by surfing or clicking on unsafe websites or links. The scammers set out their web of viruses to see who gets caught in it. The moment someone gets caught, the call is made. Someone states that they are calling from Windows Service Center and asks whether the user has lately been having problems with their computer and asks them to check whether a certain file exists on their machine. The file as can be understood was planted by them even before the phone call was made.
From here on, the caller provides the user directions to download a virus cleansing software from a particular website or requests to take remote control over the user’s machine via softwares like Team Viewer and the likes. If a person is naïve enough to allow that then the fraudsters will claim control of the victim’s computer and readily access all of their private information. The cleansing software is in reality a malware whose job is to readily access data from the computer while maintaining that it is cleaning up and fixing the innumerable viruses on the victim’s machine. The worse part of this malware is that it attaches itself to the host machine and collects all data from future web surfing and confidential data entries that the user might make online, like email account details, banking details, passwords etc.
Investigation and Facts
Investigations have directed that such calls have their origin in Kolkata, India. Investigators in the United Kingdom have gone so far as to say that all these call center scams might also be headed by a single person. The report states that in theory the email addresses and phone numbers of the victims night be obtained by illegal access of sales databases of the software companies and / or the machines of the victims.
Fact for the freshers to keep in mind is neither does Microsoft calls its users to ask whether their computer is not functioning perfectly nor does it offer to help them and / or ask for their banking details for charging a fee for the same. The company never even sends an email either for the same purpose. As a matter of fact Microsoft has alerted major online payment organizations like PayPal and AlertPay to freeze the accounts related to several fraudsters.
In case one realizes that they have been scammed, the obvious thing to do is to stop using the computer and clean the hard drive before thinking of using it again. If credit card details were obtusely divulged, the issuing bank or company needs to be alerted immediately regarding the same. In case one had made payment to the fraudsters via their bank, a complaint can be sent to the bank requesting them to cancel the transfer. Finally it is advisable that one changes the passwords to their email accounts and bank accounts for safety’s sake and be careful not to divulge such secure details to anyone in the future.