A Fin24 user tells how she was scammed by two men claiming to be Microsoft technicians. She writes:
I received a call from an international number, 001 323 473 304. The person called himself Peter, and claimed to be from Microsoft. I could not continue with his call at the time so 'Microsoft' later returned the call from a Cape Town number, 021 813 9862. This time the caller had an Indian accent, and called himself Allan.
Allan referred me to the previous caller and offered to help me with 'errors' I had been reporting to Microsoft.
He then told me that my computer was at risk of being hacked, and that Microsoft could sell me an anti-hacking software for R349.
My antivirus software had expired and needed to be renewed, so I followed his instructions.
After I gave him my credit card details and punched in the OTP (one-time password) number he apologised, saying that there must have been a problem with the card number; he then asked me to repeat the details.
In just two minutes, a company called Kavishtechnosoft drew money from my credit card which differed from the amount of the purchase.
Two amounts of R3 550 and R2 650 were then drawn by the Central Bank of India. The third transaction of over R3 500 was blocked by the bank due to insufficient funds.
At this point I realised that I was being conned. I called Standard Bank [JSE:SBK], which immediately reversed the transactions.
I wrote an email to Microsoft in the US, enquiring why they made my information available to a private company. They had in fact not done so.
Microsoft has nothing to do with Kavishtechnosoft.
What the scammers do is use telephone directories where they randomly select names of people to call. The error reporting is a standard problem on computers.
According to Microsoft, this scam is operating worldwide. The money is deposited into the Bank at India.
Microsoft South Africa’s chief security adviser, Dr Khomotso Kganyago, says scammers are using several well-known brands, including Microsoft, to fool people into believing that something is wrong with their computers.
“In reality, there is nothing wrong with their computer but the scammer has tricked the consumer into believing there is a problem and that paying the fee is the best way to get it fixed. They are just trying to scam innocent people out of money,” says Kganyago.
Kganyago says that the callers present themselves in a professional manner and sound genuine.
“Don’t be fooled, Microsoft is not cold calling consumers in regards to malfunctioning PCs, viruses or any other matter,” he says. “We strongly advise computer users to simply hang up if they receive a call of this nature and not to respond to any communications from these scammers.”
How to safeguard yourself
Kganyago says a few basic pieces of advice can help local consumers from being taken in by this and other scams:
• Never provide personal information, such as credit card or bank details, over the telephone;
• Never install anything, visit any web sites or follow any other instruction given to you by a stranger on the phone;
• Ensure that your operating system is fully updated and that any security updates have been downloaded; and
• Make sure your system is protected by strong passwords, which are changed regularly.
If you fear you may already have been scammed, you should immediately change your computer’s password, scan your computer with a safety scanner and contact your bank or credit card company.
More guidance and advice is available at www.microsoft.com/security.
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