Before I begin, I would like to emphasise – if someone (whatever their accent) rings you out of the blue from “Microsoft Tech Services” or similar, telling you that your email address is infected and your computer has caught a bug which is… you know, a load of techno-cobblers, then don’t follow their instructions. Don’t give them any personal information. Feel free to swear down the phone at them and tell them which limbs you’ll break if you ever see them in the street. Because they’re trying to defraud you.
The usual procedure is they get you to download some real spyware, or some software which gives them control over your machine (such as Teamviewer, an otherwise useful program) and then gather all your personal information to pass to them, or something which genuinely does lock up your system so they can bill you for other software to remove it (which it may or may not do – it could be more spyware… and they’ll have your payment details as well). More information over on ActionFraud where you can also report these criminals. Head to YouTube and search for “Indian scammer” for loads of recordings.
My only concern is how they have my home phone number (which I never use) and my email address tied together. There must be a website somewhere with this info, but hey – I can live with that as I know how to deal with these idiots. Which, if you have some spare time, is like this… (apologies I didn’t get a recording – I would have if they’d rung my mobile)
*bring bring* [international number incoming]
M: Hello, this is Michael [with an Indian accent]. I am calling from Microsoft. Your computer has been hacked by an infection and I am going to help you remove it.
Me: Oh. Oh wow. That sounds scary. How did that happen? What can I do? Thank you for calling!
M: Are you at your computer.
Me: Yes, I am. It’s already on.
M: Look at your keyboard. Do you see the CTRL key?
Me: I don’t think I have one of those. I have a CMD. And caps lock. Did you mean caps lock?
M: In the bottom left, you should have a C-T-R-L key.
Me: No, I don’t have one of those. I have shift. Will that do?
M: OK, no problem. Look at your screen. Can you see your icons?
Me: Yes, I can see them. They’re really pretty. I arranged them to look like a spiral.
M: What web browser do you use?
Me: I use Yahoo. To give them some business.
M: OK, so open your Safari, or Google Chrome or Yahoo for me.
Me: Oh. Wait. I can’t see the icon for that. I think it’s vanished. Could this be the virus?
M: It’s not a virus, it’s an infection. And yes it could be. It will be infecting your computer and damaging your system files.
Me: Oh, no. I can’t see my Compuserve icon anywhere to dial the modem. I’m not sure how I will be able to access AOL now.
M: On your screen in the top right, can you see a magnifying glass?
Me: No, there’s nothing there. Apart from the screen. Just background. It’s a picture of my children. Wait! One of them is holding a magnifying glass in the picture! Is that the one you mean? Wait, how can you see that?
M: No, no. A small icon of a magnifying glass in the top right hand corner…
Me: Oh, wait! Silly me. I’m logged in as my son. That’s why some of the icons are missing. He will have been up all night downloading pornography again. Could that be the problem, where the virus came from? He watches a lot of pornography.
M: How old is your son?
Me: No. Eight.
M: He’s eight and you allow him to watch pornography?
Me: It keeps him quiet while my wife and I try to work around the house. Oh, that might explain where the CTRL key went. I think it got really sticky so we pulled it off. Hang on, I’ll log out and go to my account. It’s really slow so bear with me.
M: Yes, it will be the infection which is making it slow.
Me: I am so glad you called! Thank you! Yes, … here we go… wow, it’s slow… aaaand… no, that’s not it yet. Wait… [I ran this out for 2-3 minutes] OK, and password. Wait, you can’t see my password, can you? I mean you could see my magnifying glass.
M: No, we can’t see your password.
Me: Good, good, because we’re very strict on passwords in this house! Don’t tell them to anyone. OK, P… A… where’s the S? There. S… S… W… O… R… D. Oh. It’s not working. I’ll try again. P…a…s…s…w…o…r…d… Oh. Could this be the virus. Wait! I had caps on! Sorry! P… A… Michael? Michael? Are you still there? Michael? Damn, he gave up easily.