Explained: Most 'PC Support' Contracts Are Scams

Dennis Faas's picture

Infopackets Reader Bob W. writes:

" Dear Dennis,

I believe that I have been scalped for a 3 year insurance policy and a 1 year extended warranty from Microsoft for the sum of $200.00.

While going to Amazon's website, I received an alert that claimed that I was infected and that Microsoft was blocking my computer's further use and a phone number was shown to call. The listed URL was pointing to 'Secure Microsoft Support.' Based on that, I bit! 3.5 hours later and continued phone correspondence with 3 techs, my machine appeared to be functioning perfectly.

The firm's name is 'LIVE PC EXPERTS 247'. The last tech, by the name of Nick, who apparently resolved my problem appeared honest and sincere. He complemented me on using CCleaner and Malwarebytes Antimalware, and to continue implementing their use. However, this morning I became hesitant when they failed to call me between 9-11 AM. I received a voice mail around 2 PM stating to call their number: 888-331-8954. I called and spoke with a male who had no awareness of the time here in Minnesota!

Finally, the red light came on! I accessed my bank and to date their request for money has not been processed. Bright and early tomorrow morning I will speak with my bank and stop any payment for their order requesting remittance.

I am not sure what to do now. Awaiting your reply! "

My response:

That is 100% a scam - even if it appears that the company "fixed" problems on your computer.

Here's why:

Any time you are using your computer and you receive a message - whether it's a pop up message, a full screen (blue screen, white screen, red, etc) - and the computer is telling you to call a 1-800 or 1-888 number to "fix" the problem ... IT IS A SCAM! It doesn't matter if it says it's Microsoft support or if the company is sincere in "fixing" the "problem". It is a SCAM because they TOLD you to call the number to "fix" a "problem" that never existed in the first place.

Here is a video from the FTC that explains what I just said if you are having issues playing the above embedded video. You can read more about the scam from FTC's website as well.

Fake PC Support Scams Are Nothing New

For the record, Microsoft will never, ever solicit technical support on a website (or by email) to "fix" a "problem" that pops up unexpectedly.

Oftentimes, the way the scam works is that a malicious advertisement gets served to your machine while visiting a website (even if the website is legitimate), prompting you to call a 1-800 number because your computer is "infected" or "blocked", etc. Sometimes these messages can't be closed and the only way out is to CTRL + ALT + DEL to bring up Task Manager and end the browser process, or shut off the machine. Sometimes the messages will "talk" to you with a computer generated voice. Most of the time the advertisements scare users into calling the number, where most users will pay around $300 or more to "fix" the "problem" that never existed - usually with a 3 year fake contract.

This same scam operates on multiple websites on the Internet - you can view the list over at Malwarebytes website (see: URL Blacklist), though the list will always change.

We've written many articles on this type of scam, which you can also read here:

What to do If You've been Scammed

  1. Call your credit card / bank and tell them you've been scammed and reverse the charges. Tell your card company to come to this website for more information, if they need it.
     
  2. If the scammers accessed your computer, you should have a genuine, reputable PC technician look over the computer to make sure that (a) they have not installed malicious software that can record your key strokes / passwords / banking information, and (b) that the remote access mechanism they used to connect to your computer is permanently closed. In many cases the remote access remains live - which means the scammers can get into your PC at ANY TIME, oftentimes undetected! I can assist you in getting this blocked - refer to link near the end of the article.
     
  3. The scammers will likely continue to harass you. My wife's co-worker got scammed last year and these idiots (to this day!) still keep calling her at all hours of the day, oftentimes while she is at work. It took her months to FINALLY figure out that she was scammed - even after I told her she was scammed repeatedly (she refused to believe me). These scammers are VERY persistent and will keep asking to access your system in order to sell you more bogus software or technical support.

    What finally 'tipped' her off that she was actually being scammed is that she had paid for a "3 year support contract" and they kept calling her asking to renew the same contract, even though only 6 months had passed. Here's a message on the Internet from a user complaining of the same thing! The fake tech support company made her sign a "contract" with hopes of making the service seem even more legitimate. When she tried to cancel the "contract", they gave her the runaround. I looked at the "contract" and it was a joke - definitely not legal in any way, and I told her to ignore them (and the contract) - but they still keep calling!

I hope that helps. If you are unsure whether or not you've been scammed, or if you need further assistance - I am more than happy to provide 1-on-1 support, described next.

Additional 1-on-1 Support: From Dennis

If all of this is over your head, or if you need a genuine PC technician make sure that the scammer's can't get back into your system - I can help using my remote desktop support service. Simply contact me, briefly describing the issue and I will get back to you as soon as possible. Feel free to review my technical credentials here; you also can read about my service here - complete with testimonials.

Got a Computer Question or Problem? Ask Dennis!

I need more computer questions. If you have a computer question - or even a computer problem that needs fixing - please email me with your question so that I can write more articles like this one. I can't promise I'll respond to all the messages I receive (depending on the volume), but I'll do my best.

About the author: Dennis Faas is the owner and operator of Infopackets.com. With over 30 years of computing experience, Dennis' areas of expertise are a broad range and include PC hardware, Microsoft Windows, Linux, network administration, and virtualization. Dennis holds a Bachelors degree in Computer Science (1999) and has authored 6 books on the topics of MS Windows and PC Security. If you like the advice you received on this page, please up-vote / Like this page and share it with friends. For technical support inquiries, Dennis can be reached via Live chat online this site using the Zopim Chat service (currently located at the bottom left of the screen); optionally, you can contact Dennis through the website contact form.

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Comments

jslobaszewski_10237's picture

Was classically scammed over Thanksgiving. Received a verbal message alerting me that my information may have been compromised and that I needed to call a number 833-802-8800 for assistance. In addition, Bing loaded a page with the same information the automated message was saying. I called the number and allowed the person to remote in after they said that they were from Microsoft. Huge mistake. I watched as they ran a scan and informed me that my computer was compromised. They asked for $350.00 to fix my computer or I could take it to Geek Squad or someone else. Foolishly, I agreed to pay. They asked for banking information and after giving payment information(account number, routing number and a "check" number (should have hung up then), I was referred to the "technicians" who fixed and cleaned my computer and added Webroot Antivirus (as it was the recommended choice to run with Windows 10) and CCleaner. I watched as they did all the work/cleaning and saw that they were going to "Free" sites to upload these programs. About 1 1/2 hours later they finished and installed "Webroot Antivirus" and Piriform CCleaner Professional. They asked me if I wanted to extend the warranties to 3 years (had a one year warranty) for a total of $500.00 and I said no and they logged off and said to call 888-331-8954 if I had any issues.

The name of the company that billed me was Informatico Experts LLC. They also gave me a website www.livepcexperts247.tech and said they were in California even though the individuals I talked to all had Indian accents. The company they used for accessing my bank account was eDebitDirect and appears to be a legit company. I received an email from them stating they would be processing the $350.00 charge and also listed Informatico Experts Inc as the service provider with an email address of info@techservicexperts.com and the phone number of 888-222-5556.

After all of this I upgraded to Windows 10 and Windows 10 said that the site the technician had used securityhostacivation.win was not trusted. I thought at that time I was scammed for sure but it all came clear when I checked on the 833-802-8800 number and I couldn't find out who owned it. In checking the Whitepages for reversing the number I found that the number was a scam posing as Microsoft Security Center. I also found this scam article by Dennis and knew I was had. I contacted my financial institution and requested a stop payment on the $350 charge. I then reached out to Dennis for help.

Dennis was amazing! He replied back to my email within 24 hours and offered advice immediately; "Do not answer your phone if they call" and also ways to limit access to my system if they had "planted" anything. They have indeed called back multiple times and I have not answered.We were able to set up a time to look over my computer. He identified what they used to get into my system and cleaned things up.

I am out some money (assistance from Dennis and stopping payment) but I am at ease knowing that things are fine with my computer.