Social Engineering: Beware of ‘tech support’ scams

“It begins with a simple phone call. A scratchy voice, often sounding distant and foreign, introduces the caller as ‘John,’ or ‘Steven,’ but the accent suggests otherwise,” Kirk McElhearn reports for Intego. “The caller claims to be calling from Microsoft tech support, and says that there’s a problem with your computer. If you say that you have a Mac, they either hang up or say, ‘Yes, sorry, you have a Mac.'”

“And so begins an attempt at social engineering (social hacking), a way of conning people into allowing an unknown person to access their computer, possibly copy files, and eventually getting them to pay for this ‘tech support,'” McElhearn reports. “The scammer strings the user along, leads them to supposed ‘error’ messages and malware files on their computer, and gets them to install software allowing the scammer to access their files.”

“Even though Microsoft recently stated that only 183,000 had reported this type of scam to the company in 2017, that’s probably just a fraction of the number of people who get contacted; it’s a very common scam,” McElhearn reports. “If you’re reading this, you probably already know about these social engineering scams. What’s important is that you tell others—your friends and family, especially older, less tech-savvy people—about this, so they know that when the scammer calls, they should just hang up.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: “Sorry, you have a Mac. You’re too smart for me to prey upon.”

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  1. We got a call from what the said was Apple Inc to tell us our iCloud account had been hacked.. Frightening that they had info handy on us and they insisted (in a strong Indian accent) that they were from Apple – they would not give up.. Didn’t give them any info and we had to finally hang up and then he called back 2 more times right away.. They are getting tougher to get rid of.. Ugh!

  2. Nah, don’t hang up on them, just string them along for as long as you can. I have so much fun with these idiots like asking where the key and all sorts of stuff to drive them nuts and waste their time lol.

    1. It’s an opportunity to play!
      “Shall I go get my credit card to pay you for this service?”
      Or: “yes, I’m in front of my machine right now…do you need my password to assist me?”
      Or: “I’m glad you called…I’ve been experiencing issues with my machine this morning. I think I’ve been hacked by the Russians.”

  3. If you want to listen to something related to this topic that is truly hysterical, download the following podcast:

    And get episode 102

    The podcast host does a superb job of stringing along the poor sap from India. The podcast host then digs until he finds the scammer’s phone number, and then calls them mutilple times a day every single day. The part where the scammer says in a downtrodden voice, “Alex, you’ve got to stop calling us” is PRICELESS.

  4. I love the “you have a virus” scam, and I walk them along the garden path as long as I can. Depending on the mood, I’ll even tell them that I just bought a virus program but I forgot to turn it on, hold on it should be working any minute.

    Then I give them the sound of success full blast.

  5. I have a friend with a bit of a hearing impairment. If she suspects that a call is from a call centre, she explains about her impairment and explains that she should be contacted by email, text or post.

    When the caller asks for her email address, she pretends that she can’t understand the accent or the question and says “Anybody who knows who I am will have my alternative contact details on file. Anybody who doesn’t have my details already available is making an unsolicited call and i am unable to help via the phone.”

  6. After about 10-15 min of stringing along my ‘Microsoft tech support rep’ who had informed me that my computer had been hacked, he finally concluded that I had a Mac since I was having so much problems locating the ‘start menu’…”do you have an apple in the top left hand corner?” he asked. When I confirmed, he said “wait a minute and I’ll transfer you to Apple”…about 10 seconds later I was speaking to Apple…! I said it was so good that they were working so closely together to solve these hacking issues. =) I strung her along for another 10-15 minutes before I got tired of finding ways to keep her occupied. She did have me open the terminal and type in ‘netstat’ and then try to convince me that all of those IP addresses I saw under “foreign addresses” proved that my Mac had been hacked…lol

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