Thursday, March 29, 2012

Careful Who You Give Remote Computer Access To (Yes, Even for PC Support)

Ack! Telescam!If you received a phone call from someone claiming to be from a reputable tech company – whether it were Microsoft or a well-known antivirus vendor – and they asked for remote access to your computer, would you comply with their request?

It may not be in your best interest to do so.

Scammers will not hesitate to call you up and say that it’s time to renew software licenses, your computer is infected with malware or list other imaginary issues that cannot be fixed without opting for an expensive support package first.

While most of these calls may appear to be random, others may piggyback on a legitimate support request you may have with a vendor, as the iYogi / Avast fiasco recently demonstrated.

What Had Happened Was…

Avast – a company that offers both free and paid antivirus solutions – was using iYogi support services to provide free Avast users with telephone support; however, complaints began rolling in that iYogi was attempting to swindle users into unnecessary $169 support packages.

Avast!Avast looked into the matters and was reassured by iYogi management that the issue was being corrected.

However, an independent investigation by Brian Krebs of found that iYogi reps continued to attempt to up-sell products that Avast users did not need whenever they would call in for technical support.

This ultimately lead to Avast terminating their relationship with iYogi.

Growing Trend in PC Support Scams?

Telephone scams like these are not uncommon and it is important for users to remain vigilant even when they are on the phone with someone claiming to be affiliated with a reputable software company.

Scammers are preying upon the fact that users are in need of assistance along with the tendency to not only trust the “professionals” offering to help, but the reputation of the brand-name they affiliate themselves with.

That is exactly how Comantra, an ex-Microsoft Gold Partner, managed to scam countless computer users in Canada, Australia and United Kingdom by telling them they’d received reports from Microsoft saying their PCs were infected with a virus.

If you happen to be the recipient of a computer support call that just “doesn’t sit right,” don’t hesitate to trust your instinct and deny the caller remote access to your system. Feel free to get a second opinion regarding the issues you are having with your computer and by all means, take a moment to Google the issue – or company – at hand to see what experiences other users have had.

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