Was home today and got a call my Caller ID identified as from a “unassigned” number 425-998-1533 (I will get back to that number in a bit) on which a lady whose accent I immediately placed as Asian told me that my home computer had transmitted an error code to them because of malware infection. Right! That’s beyond the obvious red flag. I suspect that their usual victims must not have a clue about computers, or run more virus and malware software than Fort Knox on their PCs like I do, but I immediately realized something was seriously off with this call. When I prompted her for more details she told me she was a rep from a company called Alertsoft. She started telling me that she represented my computer manufacturer. I was on my computer so I immediately looked up “Alertsoft”, and from that web site that clearly shows that it was put together by someone whose first language is not English, I deduced that that her claim was false.
My first guess was that this was some crooks trying to sell stuff to unwitting and unknowing people, but as the conversation went on that changed. When I asked her for my computer’s brand she was clearly stumped and she tried to give me a run around. I realized that something seriously wrong was going on when she told me she needed my IP address to run a scan of my computer. If she was working for my manufacturer and her company received a malware alert from my machine as she claimed, the IP address would have to already be known to them. She was trying to scam me. No doubt about it. I had to do some considerable research because this information does not come out easily on searches – they must have put some serious time, effort, and money hiding their actual schemes and scams from being noticed – but while she was trying hard to bullshit me I hit the jack pot. It is a big scam.
I was not going to give her either my IP address or a credit card number, which she assured me was only needed for verification purposes and to which no charges would be applied, like she asked. So I prompted her for an IP address on their end I could ping, for verification on my side, you know, and at that point I think she realized she was caught and hung up on me. I immediately dialed that number I gave above (go ahead and do so yourself)back and got a recording warning the user that this number was being used by scammers that “phish for identity and user data to exploit”. They are some kind of Middle Eastern scam organization involved in criminal activity that ranges from stealing people’s identities – with all the consequent problems – to tricking them into letting them compromise their computers and downloading software they then use to commit other such types of crimes with.
Neither your computer manufacturer nor anyone that operates security software would be calling you on the phone and asking you for your credit card, for verification purposes or otherwise, and then for an IP address they can use to download software to your computer on. There is no shadow group out there that scans all the world’s computers for malware. Just like you do not win the lottery in Spain if you didn’t buy a ticket, or are too stupid to live if you believe a Nigerian government official that needs your bank account information, to transfer hundreds of millions of locked dollars from an oil sale, and promises you a few million in return for that help.
Buyer beware. If they call you from Alertsoft or any other such bullshit company don’t tell them anything other than to fuck off and die.