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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    MonkGuy

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    Default Tech support scam calls

    I've been getting a lot of phone calls recently from people claiming to be from Microsoft, or now more often Google (or "the Google" as the one today phrased it).

    They typically claim that my computer has a virus or some other problem that they want to fix for me. Recently, they have started trying to get me to check my "computer license id" to confirm their credentials (afaik, this number is the same on all Windows computers, so doesn't prove anything).

    Now, normally I would just hang up on them, but recently they have become extremely peraistant: the same person calling me back seconds later, multiple times, and getting increasingly angry with me for hanging up on them.

    Is there anything I can do to block and/or report them?
    Last edited by Wardog; 2019-11-01 at 05:51 AM.

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    Default Re: Tech support scam calls

    Depends on the kind of phone you're being called on. If it's a smart phone, I'm fairly certain there's a setting to block callers from a certain number somewhere. You could also call the police down on them, I suppose, as they're criminals, but I'm not certain what, if anything, they can do since these people are generally not calling to the land they're based out off.
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    BlackDragon

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    Default Re: Tech support scam calls

    Since you're in the UK you can register for Telephone Preference Services, which will stop some of this stuff, but whether it'll affect these guys is another matter. Can't say I've ever had one call me back after my normal response, which is "<bleep> off you scamming <bleep>" (insert your own choice of swear words)--I think actually telling them they're pulling a scam tells them you're wise to their act and they won't waste time calling you again, they'll move on to a possibly more gullible target, which might not happen if you just hang up on them without saying anything.

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    Default Re: Tech support scam calls

    Unfortunately most of the tech call centre scammers are using VOIP to make their calls, making them hard to block for long.

    Since you're in the UK, you can try signing up for the TPS, which helps for some, but with your particular spammers, you'll have to contact your telephone provider.

    BT have a free spam call blocking service for landlines, I'm not sure whether Virgin or any of the other telecos do.

    If they're calling you on your mobile, you can just block them.

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    Ettin in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Tech support scam calls

    LIE TO THEM. Give them a fake license ID, a fake name, a fake credit card number. Tell them you're on whatever virus website they want you to go to when really the computer's off and you're still in bed. Give them a bunch of fake information so they THEY end up wasting THEIR time trying to use credit cards that don't exist, drain bank accounts that don't exist, and hack into computers that don't exist.

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    Default Re: Tech support scam calls

    Quote Originally Posted by Bohandas View Post
    LIE TO THEM. Give them a fake license ID, a fake name, a fake credit card number. Tell them you're on whatever virus website they want you to go to when really the computer's off and you're still in bed. Give them a bunch of fake information so they THEY end up wasting THEIR time trying to use credit cards that don't exist, drain bank accounts that don't exist, and hack into computers that don't exist.
    That won't work. Nearly all the current tech support scams involve the victim first giving the scammer remote access to their computer, so they can quickly and easily tell whether you're actually doing what they're asking or just playing along.

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    Default Re: Tech support scam calls

    Yeah, that. I once got one and actually went along (because I was having technical problems and did call a support line just a few hours before) and one of the first things they wanted was remote access. Just hang up.
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    Default Re: Tech support scam calls

    If you can be bothered, it can be funny to pretend they've reached an automated system. You know, "Welcome to [company name]. To [do something], press 1". You can make them absurd if the person doesn't hang up immediately ("To sell me deathsticks, press 6. To go home and rethink your life, press 7") but normally they give up pretty fast.

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    Default Re: Tech support scam calls

    Quote Originally Posted by Eldan View Post
    Yeah, that. I once got one and actually went along (because I was having technical problems and did call a support line just a few hours before) and one of the first things they wanted was remote access. Just hang up.
    If found a plethora of youtube vids where people punk the remote access fake techguys. Naturally I recommend letting the pros who know their stuff do that. For the rest of us, scream a bit at them and hang up.

    There are a number of things you can do. Like one who put up a virtual machine that scammers were given access to.

    Several used the fact that (some) remote access software combats scams by making scammers give up access to their computer first. And the scammer got their computer account admin locked for their troubles. Because they rely on people not knowing what is going on.

    The one with the virtual machine IIRC deleted the scammers own computer while they were uselessly were trying to take the virtual machine hostage.

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    Default Re: Tech support scam calls

    Quote Originally Posted by Unavenger View Post
    If you can be bothered, it can be funny to pretend they've reached an automated system. You know, "Welcome to [company name]. To [do something], press 1". You can make them absurd if the person doesn't hang up immediately ("To sell me deathsticks, press 6. To go home and rethink your life, press 7") but normally they give up pretty fast.
    I was really tempted once to reply "You have reached the Federal Cybersecurity Institute, how can I help you?"
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    Default Re: Tech support scam calls

    Quote Originally Posted by Bohandas View Post
    Give them a bunch of fake information so they THEY end up wasting THEIR time
    You realise you're wasting your own time as well doing this, right?

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    Default Re: Tech support scam calls

    Quote Originally Posted by factotum View Post
    You realise you're wasting your own time as well doing this, right?
    Not who you're replying to, but still...

    It's my time to waste. I only do that when I'm at work or on the road, so it works out as a wash for me regardless, whereas they're in a numbers game and the more time wasted on me the more they're losing out on some poor sap who would actually fall for it.
    Quote Originally Posted by Brother Oni View Post
    That won't work. Nearly all the current tech support scams involve the victim first giving the scammer remote access to their computer, so they can quickly and easily tell whether you're actually doing what they're asking or just playing along.
    You can't hook 'em for long, sure, but people are terrible at computers, and the people that would fall for their crap are the same people who would be the worst at technology. Literally twenty minutes ago a woman called to see if we could read her SD card. Except she didn't say that, she said "I have a SIM card and the doctor said you could upload it, download it, whatever." Three separate times she said the phrase, "upload the sim card or download the sim card or whatever" almost verbatim.

    Yes, one of the first things they ask to do is to remote in to the computer. But I'm not in the computer room, I'm out in the garden, so it takes me a good half minute to get to the computer room. Then I need to turn the durn thing on, and look for the internet button. When they tell me how to grant them access, I confirm I've done it. When they complain I haven't, I say that I have. I get confused. Maybe a little angry. Ask them to tell me again how to do it. Spell out the URL. Whoops, looks like I spelled it wrong. Gotta delete the whole thing and start over. What was it again? And this will let me read my email again, correct? I don't get much email but when I do it's usually from my children and every time I call them it just goes to the answering machine and sometimes the lady says it's full, do you know how they do that without those little cassette tapes anymore? I think that's the problem, if we went back to cassettes everyone would know how to work their answering machines again. Anyway, I have the internet back, what was that website again?

    And don't you for a second tell me that's not believable. That's is terrifyingly believable.
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    Ettin in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Tech support scam calls

    Quote Originally Posted by Brother Oni View Post
    That won't work. Nearly all the current tech support scams involve the victim first giving the scammer remote access to their computer, so they can quickly and easily tell whether you're actually doing what they're asking or just playing along.
    Pretend you're trying to. Have them walk you through it a few times. And then say "oh my, there really must be something wrong with it if it won't connect"

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    Default Re: Tech support scam calls

    Quote Originally Posted by Bohandas View Post
    LIE TO THEM. Give them a fake license ID, a fake name, a fake credit card number. Tell them you're on whatever virus website they want you to go to when really the computer's off and you're still in bed. Give them a bunch of fake information so they THEY end up wasting THEIR time trying to use credit cards that don't exist, drain bank accounts that don't exist, and hack into computers that don't exist.
    This. In conjunction with this, just act really, really dumb. Visualize someone who just doesn't understand computers at all, ask endless questions, and stall. If they want remote access, you don't know what that is. If they ask you to go on the internet, tell them you haven't bought an internet, and get all of your googles from the blue E. If they want money, you don't use those newfangled credit cards, but would be happy to mail a check. Have some fun with it.

    Mostly you're just stalling them and wasting their time, and maybe causing them frustration. Eventually they'll figure it out and bail, but the longer you can keep them from trying another possible victim, the more you win.
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    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: Tech support scam calls

    Quote Originally Posted by Tyndmyr View Post
    This. In conjunction with this, just act really, really dumb. Visualize someone who just doesn't understand computers at all, ask endless questions, and stall. If they want remote access, you don't know what that is. If they ask you to go on the internet, tell them you haven't bought an internet, and get all of your googles from the blue E. If they want money, you don't use those newfangled credit cards, but would be happy to mail a check. Have some fun with it.

    Mostly you're just stalling them and wasting their time, and maybe causing them frustration. Eventually they'll figure it out and bail, but the longer you can keep them from trying another possible victim, the more you win.
    You can also "need to check with your spouse" and put down the phone at random times. For bonus points, come back with the kinds of bizarre questions that can only happen when a non-technical person asks the opinion of another non-technical person about something that neither of them really follow. "He says it's ok to give you the remote access, but he wants me to delete our desktop background first so you can't see what the grandkids look like. Hang on, I think my son used one of these buttons to get that on the computer to start with. *furious clicking*"

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    Default Re: Tech support scam calls

    I was very rude and disrespectful back at them, ruined their day like they did to me. When I was getting those spam calls, I actually did some pretty awful things to them. Since almost all of them had Indian accents and they annoyed me way, way, waaaaaaay past my normal composure, I decided to look up insults and slurs to spout back at them, maybe even put in a bit of a redneck attitude. A few times even, I started whispering very quietly, pretending I just got my young infant to sleep and I was trying not to wake them up, talked back and forth very softly for a bit with them, and then suddenly without warning in one of my mid-sentences, I would blow an air-horn pointblank into the receiver until they hung up (which was anywhere from 3-5 seconds).

    Now, I don't condone this sort of behavior anymore, but back then they really broke down all my civil niceties into just pure hatred from getting between 8-12 of those calls A DAY!
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    Default Re: Tech support scam calls

    Quote Originally Posted by Silverraptor View Post
    I was very rude and disrespectful back at them, ruined their day like they did to me. When I was getting those spam calls, I actually did some pretty awful things to them. Since almost all of them had Indian accents and they annoyed me way, way, waaaaaaay past my normal composure, I decided to look up insults and slurs to spout back at them, maybe even put in a bit of a redneck attitude. A few times even, I started whispering very quietly, pretending I just got my young infant to sleep and I was trying not to wake them up, talked back and forth very softly for a bit with them, and then suddenly without warning in one of my mid-sentences, I would blow an air-horn pointblank into the receiver until they hung up (which was anywhere from 3-5 seconds).

    Now, I don't condone this sort of behavior anymore, but back then they really broke down all my civil niceties into just pure hatred from getting between 8-12 of those calls A DAY!
    I mean, its probably unlikely that many of them are actually from india or of indian descent. I would guess its probably an affected accent to match how people assume that tech support personnel sound. (Like how, according to wikipedia, people doing the Nigerian prince scam are 10 times more likely to be from the USA than actually from Nigeria. The apparent ethnicity is part of the scam.)

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    Default Re: Tech support scam calls

    Quote Originally Posted by Eldan View Post
    I was really tempted once to reply "You have reached the Federal Cybersecurity Institute, how can I help you?"
    If you are able to act a bit, then a good variation on that is a "Who are you and how did you get that number?" question said in a properly serious way.

    That being said, playing informatic illiterate is most likely the best way to string scammers along.

    Just out of curiosity I searched the web and there are people who build automated answering bots with the specific purpose to make scammers and spammers waste time on the phone. They even actively search for scam phone numbers to file reports and/or spam them back. I just hope they aim well and not hit innocent people.
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    Default Re: Tech support scam calls

    Quote Originally Posted by Bohandas View Post
    I mean, its probably unlikely that many of them are actually from india or of indian descent. I would guess its probably an affected accent to match how people assume that tech support personnel sound. (Like how, according to wikipedia, people doing the Nigerian prince scam are 10 times more likely to be from the USA than actually from Nigeria. The apparent ethnicity is part of the scam.)
    On the contrary, most of them *are* from the Indian sub-continent (going from the content of youtube vids). Not just because that's "expected" but because of the same reasons tech-support resides there. Cheap people who can speak English.
    Should watch the one where you can hear the panicked back-office screaming in, I now forget what language it was, hindi or punjabi or some such, when they realise they been "hacked" back.

    Quote Originally Posted by Peelee View Post
    You can't hook 'em for long, sure, but people are terrible at computers, and the people that would fall for their crap are the same people who would be the worst at technology. Literally twenty minutes ago a woman called to see if we could read her SD card. Except she didn't say that, she said "I have a SIM card and the doctor said you could upload it, download it, whatever." Three separate times she said the phrase, "upload the sim card or download the sim card or whatever" almost verbatim.

    And don't you for a second tell me that's not believable. That's is terrifyingly believable.
    Agreed.
    This is *exactly* how the people who "counter-scam" do it. Like I said, there's a whole genre on youtube with vids like this. People who don't get tech is who they target, and hence, they expect to have to walk them through the steps. This is why a fast guy knowing what they do can counter-hijack the scammers, e.g. using Teamviewer. I can't recommend those videos enough.

    I don't normally condone being aggressive with telemarketers per se, but for these scammers I say gloves off. Although ironically, it seems gloves on are much more dangerous way to box.

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    Default Re: Tech support scam calls

    My Phone Provider: T-Mobile offers a free service that automatically blocks these calls.

    Some still get through, but far, far fewer then before. I'm very happy since I asked them to start.
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    Default Re: Tech support scam calls

    Calls like this are why I don't even answer my phone anymore and let the answering machine handle them. I only pick up when I know who I am talking to.
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    Default Re: Tech support scam calls

    Quote Originally Posted by Wardog View Post
    Is there anything I can do to block and/or report them?
    As has already been said, TPS is your friend in the UK. When I joined it dramatically cut down the number of callers.

    It didn't get all of them, but a huge number will cut off in a panic when you mention TPS (and in fairness, I have had a few apologise and then hang up).

    The big irony is that I got on to TPS because a cold-caller straight-up gave me the number when I said I was fed up with getting calls. That's what I call service.
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    Default Re: Tech support scam calls

    They usually call early in the morning when I'm getting ready to go to work, so I don't have the time or mood to prank them (other than telling them I'm booting up my computer, and just leaving the phone off the hook while I take a shower).

    But I have considered booting up my computer and getting them to talk me through installing their standard - on an Amstrad CPC.

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    Default Re: Tech support scam calls

    I pretty much remember their scripted speech - it's always the same.

    Hi, this is [fake name]. I'm calling you from the Microsoft Security Center regarding a problem with your computer.

    We've received a warning that your computer has been hacked. To help you secure your files, we need you to authorize remote access. This is very easy, and completely safe for you.


    I always try to string them along, but it rarely works. They waste the absolute minimum time on people who aren't obviously buying it.

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