Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Protecting Data from Current Attacks - "Verizon" Calls Aimed at Computer Support

A recent phone call scams is coming to a city near you.  The callers identify themselves as Verizon employees and explain they need you to get on your computer to run updates or all of your applications will stop working.  Obviously no one wants the applications and programs on their computer to stop working, but wait, do you really know who is on the other end of the phone?

What to know

  • These calls are a SCAM!!!
  • The caller id for these calls shows up as "private".
  • Some people receiving these calls do not use Verizon as their Internet Service Provider or ISP, and are not necessarily located in areas where Verizon provides their Fiber Optic Service, FiOS.
  • Just as Highway Patrol does not call you at home to tell you there is a problem with your car, a mobile carrier / ISP will not contact you to let you know your computer needs to be updated.
  • These types of phone calls generally use fear to get the intended victim to respond without questioning whom they are speaking with.  When receiving a phone call from someone you do not know, question why they are calling and if what they are saying makes sense.  Typically, asking questions will give you enough time and information to better judge the validity of the caller and their intentions.
What to do
  • Do not visit any of the websites the caller mentions.  Even with anti-virus and other security software installed, malware may be installed if clicked upon.
  • Do not give out personal information over the phone if you suspect the call is fraudulent.
  • Be careful who you accept remote connections from.  For safety tips on remote connections, read our "Securely Allowing Remote Support" post.  You may be surprised to learn remote connection software can do the following without any notifications on your screen:
    • Take screenshots of the desktop including any open files
    • Drop files onto your device
    • Run an executable
  • Follow your instincts.  If your instincts tell you to question what the caller is saying, ask for their name, contact info, department, or call back number.  Instead of giving out information to the caller, hang up and call the company directly.  Ask if the caller is an employee or if they have record of the call.  Reporting these scams helps the company warn other customers and potential victims.
  • Share your experience with friends and family to help protect them against the scam.
  • File a complaint to the Federal Trade Commission Complaint Assistant which will hopefully alert others, reduce the impact and stop the offenders.
Unfortunately, Internet based, email, and phone scams are still highly prevalent.  Protecting ourselves from these attacks is an important aspect of protecting our data, privacy, and identity.  The most important things to remember when these situations happen are:  question any unknown callers, do not provide personal information, and if in doubt contact the company the caller claims to work for to verify the call is legitimate.  These steps can help protect devices from malware infections which can be costly and put data at risk.

As always, trust your instincts and protect yourself!

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