Monday, August 25, 2014
Computer-Related Phone Fraud
Q: Someone from "Windows Support" called me and said they had been receiving error messages from my computer. When I asked the caller to prove that he was from Windows, he told me what my computer ID number was, then guided me to the Windows registry, where I indeed found the number. So I let him take control of my computer online. He found a number of problems with my Windows system and offered to fix them for $250. At that point I figured it was a scam and didn't fall for it, but I was left wondering how he could have known my computer's ID number. Also, is it possible that he stole any information when he had access to my computer?
A: The Windows support scam of which you speak has been around for years, although judging from my inbox, it appears to be spiking at the moment. In fact, I recently received a similar call from someone at (347) 227-6900, a New York number often associated with this particular scam. The ID number you were given probably was a CLSID (Windows Class Identifier), which the operating system uses to identify components including the Windows Control Panel and main folders such as My Documents. CLSID numbers are the same on most Windows computers, but you were fooled into believing the number the caller identified was unique to your computer. As to your second question, yes, with online control of your computer a person could plant a virus capable of stealing passwords and other personal info. So scan your system with an antimalware program. And remember, any time you get an unsolicited call about your computer, it's a scam...
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