Tech sup­port scam: ‘We’ll come to your place’

Manawatu Standard - - Business - TOM PULLAR-STRECKER

A phone scam­mer pos­ing as a Spark em­ployee has been recorded on tape by a Hamil­ton woman sug­gest­ing a visit might be ar­ranged to her home.

The scam­mer told the woman – who asked not to be iden­ti­fied by name – that an ‘‘agent’’ would call back in the evening to fix an ap­point­ment ‘‘and come to your place’’ to look af­ter a sup­posed mal­ware is­sue.

The woman said it was pos­si­ble the scam­mer was just try­ing to find a ‘‘pro­fes­sional’’ way to end the con­ver­sa­tion af­ter she told him she had no com­puter.

Spark spokes­woman Ly­dia Teb­butt agreed it was quite pos­si­ble the scam­mer was bluff­ing but said ‘‘the idea of this ac­tu­ally hap­pen­ing is con­cern­ing’’.

‘‘The best way cus­tomers can pro­tect them­selves is to never pro­vide per­sonal in­for­ma­tion – in­clud­ing ad­dresses – to some­one who has phoned out of the blue,’’ she said.

So-called ‘‘tech sup­port’’ scam calls have plagued Ki­wis for sev­eral years but do not gen­er­ally in­volve home vis­its.

Teb­butt said it was ‘‘great’’ the woman had been able to record the ex­change so oth­ers could ‘‘lis­ten to one of these calls, hear what they’re like, and iden­tify them more eas­ily if they re­ceive one’’.

‘‘The cus­tomer’s in­stinct that some­thing wasn’t right was spot on – and her re­solve to leave the call and phone Spark di­rect to ask about the al­leged is­sue is ex­actly what we’d rec­om­mend some­one do if they’re un­sure about the le­git­i­macy of a call.’’

Scam­mers – typ­i­cally claim­ing to be from Mi­crosoft or an in­ter­net provider – fre­quently call peo­ple and in­vite them to open files on their com­puter that the scam­mers falsely claim is ev­i­dence the de­vice has been com­pro­mised.

They will then of­ten ask for help to down­load mal­ware, dis­guised as a fix, and charge their vic­tim for the ‘‘ser­vice’’.

Many of the scam calls are be­lieved to orig­i­nate from firms in In­dia, some of which may once have been le­git­i­mate busi­nesses pro­vid­ing phone sup­port.

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