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AG: Microsoft tech support phone scam continues

(News 3)
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Updated: 8/28/2013 12:12 pm
LAS VEGAS – Consumers are being warned about an ongoing scam using Microsoft and other legitimate organizations’ names that is designed to gain access to sensitive information stored on people’s computers.

“Cyber-security is a growing point of concern for Nevadans,” Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto said. “Criminals are turning to online tactics of deception and scams to steal from people, making it much more difficult to track.”
Where to report phone fraud: If you are a victim, contact local law enforcement and submit complaints to the Nevada Attorney General’s Office and the FTC. Register for the National Do Not Call Registry at www.donotcall.gov. The U.S. National Do Not Call Registry allows you to register your phone number. U.S. telemarketers are legally required to check this list.

“Cybercriminals often use the names of well-known companies and organizations, like Microsoft, in their scams to convince people that their phone calls or emails are legitimate,” said Richard Domingues Boscovich, assistant general counsel, Microsoft Digital Crimes Unit. “Since receiving reports about these scams in 2010, Microsoft has made an effort to clarify that these calls and emails are a scam.

“Neither Microsoft nor our partners make unsolicited calls to people about computer security problems nor do we charge people for computer security or software fixes.”

Scammers may either cold call people at home or email them directly, falsely claiming to represent one of the following departments: Windows Helpdesk, Windows Service Center, Microsoft Tech Support, the Microsoft Technical Department Support Group, the Microsoft Research and Development Team, or some other legitimate-sounding group. Sometimes they even claim to be from Microsoft Digital Crimes Unit. The scammers often address their potential victim by name, tell them their computer’s security is at risk, and offer to provide a free security check.

Once they have tricked their victims into believing they have a problem, the scammers deceive them by:

•Installing malicious software that captures sensitive data such as banking information.
•Allowing the scammer to take control of the computer remotely to adjust settings that leave the computer vulnerable to security threats.
•Navigating to fraudulent websites where credit card information is required.
•Requesting credit card information to bill the victims for the services the scammers provided.

If you are contacted by anyone making these or similar claims, do not purchase any products or services and do not follow their instructions. Most importantly, do not give a third party access to your computer or provide credit card or any other type of financial information. Finally, if you believe you have been targeted by a scammer, make sure to take the person’s information (name, company name, city, telephone number, and website) and report it to the local authorities or the Federal Trade Commission.

Click here to read more information from Microsoft on how to avoid these types of crimes and for instructions on what to do if you already gave information to a scammer claiming to be a tech support person.

For more information and tips to avoid phone scams, visit the Nevada Attorney General’s Tech Crime unit and the Federal Trade Commission’s website.

– From news release
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