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Fraud­u­lent sup­port calls

Crim­i­nals don’t just limit them­selves to the Internet to obtain con­fi­den­tial infor­ma­tion. They increas­ingly also use the phone. This type of crime is called “vishing”.

Pro­tect your­self by:

  • imme­di­ately ter­mi­nating any unso­licited calls by pur­ported Microsoft, other IT sup­port com­pany or finan­cial insti­tu­tion employees.
  • never relying on a number shown on your tele­phone dis­play to be actu­ally correct.
  • never dis­closing any per­sonal data such as pass­words or credit card details to any other person.
  • always calling the offi­cial Microsoft or other IT sup­port company’s offi­cial tele­phone number.
  • only ever con­tacting your finan­cial insti­tu­tion via their offi­cial tele­phone number, which can for instance be found on your account statements.

The term “vishing” stands for “voice phishing”. Sim­ilar to classic phishing and with the help of faked facts, people are tricked into dis­closing con­fi­den­tial infor­ma­tion or installing alleged secu­rity soft­ware – while in reality, this is mal­ware.

During such phone calls, attackers often pre­tend to be a Microsoft, an IT sup­port com­pany or finan­cial insti­tu­tion employee. A caller might for instance claim that a virus infec­tion has been found or that there is another tech­nical problem. These fraud­sters intend to con­vince their vic­tims to either down­load soft­ware from the Internet or visit a faked web­site, which does how­ever look strik­ingly authentic.

Both ways, crim­i­nals are able to obtain direct access to their victim’s device, to then for instance cap­ture pass­words or view, copy and process any data stored on their com­puter unno­ticed. Some fraud­sters may even ask for a fee pay­ment for their so-called “sup­port ser­vice”, so that they obtain credit card num­bers; of course for sub­se­quent fraud­u­lent use.

Callers often speak broken Eng­lish. Since tele­phone num­bers can be elec­tron­i­cally manip­u­lated, vic­tims’ tele­phones might even dis­play a company’s cor­rect tele­phone number.

It is ever more fre­quently the case that such pur­ported employees will ask vic­tims to call them­selves. To do so, vic­tims are shown adver­tising win­dows (pop ups) when surfing the web, informing them that there are prob­lems. The same pop-up will also show a Swiss tele­phone number vic­tims are to call to resolve the “problem.”

If it is too late already, and you have already allowed the access to your device, imme­di­ately dis­con­nect it from the Internet, or switch it off. Only switch your device back on once you have deac­ti­vated the net­work (e. g. switched the WLAN off) and then imme­di­ately check the whole hard drive with antivirus soft­ware. You should also change all pass­words. In case you are unsure or need to, please ask a spe­cialist for help.

If you have already dis­closed sen­si­tive infor­ma­tion (for instance credit card or bank data), please imme­di­ately con­tact your credit card com­pany and/or your finan­cial insti­tu­tion as well as the local police.

Microsoft, other IT sup­port com­pa­nies or finan­cial insti­tu­tions never make any unso­licited phone calls to pri­vate users to offer tech­nical sup­port! In such cases, cus­tomers must always take the ini­tia­tive themselves.


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