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Security Tech Tips:
Microsoft Tech Support Scam Calls
We're issuing this Threat Alert due to a recent uptick in Microsoft Tech Support Scam Calls. Customers are reporting they received a call from Microsoft claiming either something on their computer is broken or that someone has been trying to break into their computer. The scammer then remotes into their machine and produces fake evidence to convince the victim that the computer is infected with malware or compromised by a hacker.
Do not be fooled!!
First, Microsoft or its partners will never call customers and charge you for computer repairs. Cybercriminals who call you claiming to be Microsoft Tech Support attempt to gain access to your computer so they can trick you into installing malicious software that captures sensitive data like your banking information. They try to take control of your computer remotely, request credit card information so they can bill you for phony services, or direct you to fraudulent web sites where you enter personal and financial information. They often claim to be from these organizations: Windows Helpdesk, Windows Service Center, Microsoft Tech Support, Microsoft Support, Windows Technical Department Support Group, Microsoft Research and Development Team (Microsoft R & D Team) or another similar aliases.
We encourage you to notify your friends and family of this risk and encourage them to take the following steps to avoid Microsoft Tech Support phone scams:
Rogue Security Software
What is rogue security software?
Rogue security software is an application that appears to be beneficial from a security perspective but provides little or no security, generates erroneous alerts, or attempts to lure users into participating in fraudulent transactions. Some products defined as "rogue" simply fail to provide the reliable protection that a consumer paid for. Others are far more sinister, masquerading as legitimate security software, and using deceptive tactics to con users into buying the product.
Why do you need to know about rogues?
Unfortunately for computer users, the number of rogue security and anti-malware software, also commonly referred to as "scareware", found online is rising at ever-increasing rates, blurring the lines between legitimate software and applications that put consumers in harm's way. And that means that instead of purchasing a program to protect your PC, you may actually be playing into the hands of cyber scammers, falling for bogus software specifically designed to mislead you.
Here is a link to a gallery of rogue security programs. The list is extensive but worthwhile for reference when you experience a suspicious program on your computer.
How Not to Get Hooked by a ‘Phishing’ Scam
“We suspect an unauthorized transaction on your account. To ensure that your account is not compromised, please click the link below and confirm your identity.”
Have you received email with a similar message? It’s a scam called “phishing” — and it involves Internet fraudsters who send spam or pop-up messages to lure personal information (bank account information, Social Security number, passwords, or other sensitive information) from unsuspecting victims.
According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation’s consumer protection agency, phishers send an email or pop-up message that claims to be from a business or organization that you may deal with — for example, an Internet service provider (ISP), bank, online payment service (Pay Pal) , or even a government agency (IRS). The message may ask you to “update,” “validate,” or “confirm” your account information. Some phishing emails threaten a dire consequence if you don’t respond. The messages direct you to a website that looks just like a legitimate organization’s site. But it isn’t. It’s a bogus site whose sole purpose is to trick you into divulging your personal information so the operators can steal your identity and run up bills or commit crimes in your name.
The FTC suggests these tips to help you avoid getting hooked by a phishing scam:
• If you get an email or pop-up message that asks for personal or financial information, do not reply. And don’t click on the link in the message, either. Legitimate companies don’t ask for this information via email. If you are concerned about your account, contact the organization mentioned in the email using a telephone number you know to be genuine, or open a new Internet browser session and type in the company’s correct Web address yourself. In any case, don’t cut and paste the link from the message into your Internet browser — phishers can make links look like they go to one place, but that actually send you to a different site.
• Area codes can mislead. Some scammers send an email that appears to be from a legitimate business and ask you to call a phone number to update your account or access a “refund.” Because they use Voice Over Internet Protocol technology, the area code you call does not reflect where the scammers really are. If you need to reach an organization you do business with, call the number on your financial statements or on the back of your credit card. In any case, delete random emails that ask you to confirm or divulge your financial information.
• Use anti-virus and anti-spyware software, as well as a firewall, and update them all regularly. Some phishing emails contain software that can harm your computer or track your activities on the Internet without your knowledge. Anti-virus software and a firewall can protect you from inadvertently accepting such unwanted files. Look for antivirus software that recognizes current viruses as well as older ones; that can effectively reverse the damage; and that updates automatically. A firewall helps make you invisible on the Internet and blocks all communications from unauthorized sources.
• Don’t email personal or financial information. Email is not a secure method of transmitting personal information.
• Be cautious about opening any attachment or downloading any files from emails you receive, regardless of who sent them. These files can contain viruses or other software that can weaken your computer’s security.
Online Holiday Shopping Scams
Online holiday shopping scams abound. Every year, online criminals create new ways to steal your money, your personal information even your identity. The FBI has identified three very prevalent and aggressive online holiday shopping scams to watch out for.
Online Auction Scams
Internet criminals post classified ads or auctions for products they do not have. If you receive an auction product from a merchant or retail store, rather than directly from the auction seller, the item may have been purchased with someone else's stolen credit card number. Contact the merchant to verify the account used to pay for the item actually belongs to you.
Reduced or Free Shipping Scams
Be wary of unfamiliar websites or individuals offering reduced or free shipping to customers. In many instances, a fraudulent seller will provide shipping labels to their customers without first paying the delivery company. Packages shipped with these labels are intercepted and identified as fraudulent.
Gift Card Scams
Purchasing gift cards from auction sites or classified ads can be risky. If you need a gift card, it is safest to purchase it directly from the merchant or another authorized retail store. If the gift card merchant discovers the card you received from another source or auction was initially obtained fraudulently, the merchant will deactivate the gift card number and it will not be honored for purchases.
How to Avoid Becoming a Victim of Cyber Crime
The FBI offers the following tips to help you avoid becoming a victim of these and other online scammers: