The Dark Side of Computer Support

The Dark Side of Computer Support

Every industry has two sides and the computer support industry is not any different. Consumers have been hit with bogus support phone calls from people claiming to be from a well-known company such as Microsoft or Apple. The scam goes along the lines of they have noticed unusual activity on your PC and it is infected with viruses and they need to take control of the computer and fix it for a fee. The number one thing to remember with these phone calls is that Microsoft and Apple are NEVER going to call you directly.

These scams have now evolved to bogus pop-ups that claim you have been hacked, or infected with a virus, again usually with a banner at the top with a well-known company name. You have activated this pop-up by visiting a website that has either been hacked or is in itself a malicious website. It is important to remember that you are just looking at a pop-up caused by a script, it is not caused by a virus or malware. The pop-up has an 800 number and wants you to call right away so they can help you. I have now dealt with quite a few of these that run the gamut from saying they are from Microsoft and even HP. As of December of 2014 there is even one for Mac’s.


If you stop and take the time to google the number or the website listed they can look like a legitimate business. The end game for them here is to connect to your PC and get you to pay them for a non-existent, not needed service. This is known as social engineering – manipulating you into giving up information or letting them into your PC. The really evil ones will infect your machine with Malware, a backdoor connection or a keystroke logger before they disconnect. Once they connect in remotely and usually bring up task manager and show you things (processes) running in the background. These processes are usually legitimate things needed for the operating system to run but the average person does not know that. So when the (scam support) person says “see these are viruses running” they believe them. They then want a credit card to cover the couple hundred dollars they are going to charge to clean your PC.

If the customer starts to question them they get very indignant and come back with dialogue that goes something like “you can either pay us to clean it or you can go to the ** store and have them clean it for a lot more than we charge”. The best one was my client who documented everything they said and the pitch was “you will need a level 5 certified Microsoft technician to work on this and it will take days”. I had to giggle at that one as there is no such thing as a level 5 certified MS tech. I have also had them say you need a Cisco engineer to clean and secure your network card – equally as funny! Although their pitch is funny to me there is nothing funny about their intentions.

When confronted with any pop-up that is questionable or that you cannot close please stop and call your trusted service provider. Do not call the number and do not let them connect to your PC. If you have any questions or concerns about your PC as always just give us a call.