Helpful? Hardly!

[Originally published 11/18/2009] The AARP has published an interesting article about a new scam. It’s yet another social engineering scheme designed to get you to give personal information to another person and/or allow them access to your computer from which they can then get any personal information stored there.

In short, the scheme usually has someone from a “support” department or company call you and tell you your security software has detected a virus and that you need to either go to a website or give them information that will allow them to access your computer to fix the problem. Either course of action will put your data at risk as the website would have a program that allows access to your computer and the information you may give can also allow this access.

Don’t fall for it. Any anti-virus or anti-malware software will put up a notice on the screen instead of initiating a call from the company. There is no way a company can have as many support people as would be needed to respond personally to every malware infection attempt.

So, watch out if…

  • A warning comes via phone.
  • A caller attempts to sell you a support contract via a cold call (a call to you that you did not solicit).

And, in a variation, if you hear a ringing tone when you answer a call hang up immediately as this can be a sign of a call-back system in operation and you just might find yourself with an international long distance call on your phone bill if you let someone answer that ring. In this variation they hit you twice: once for the call and once to scam you into giving them access to your system to further rip you off.