May 24th 2017
Action Fraud – the UK's national fraud and cybercrime reporting centre – has received the first reports of 'technical support' scammers claiming to be from Microsoft, exploiting the global WannaCry ransomware attack.
One victim fell for the scam after calling a ‘help’ number advertised on a pop-up window. The window, which the user was unable to close, warned that the victim had been affected by WannaCry ransomware. Convinced that they did not have effective anti-virus protection, the victim granted remote access to their PC to the fraudster, who then installed Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool, and charged £320. (The tool is actually available free of charge).
It is important to remember that any Microsoft error and warning messages on your PC will never include a phone number, and that Microsoft will never proactively contact you to provide unsolicited PC or technical support. Any communication they have with you must be initiated by you.
It is commonplace for scammers to contact people at random followoing various types of cyberattacks, as they attempt to exploit victims' fear of being defrauded or having their identitiy stolen by using what can seem lilke a plausible reason to do so.
How to protect yourself
– Don't call numbers from pop-up messages.
– Never allow remote access to your computer, unless from an existing support organisation whom you know and trust, to resolve an actual problem, and have confirmed their identity.
– Always be wary of unsolicited calls. If you’re unsure of a caller’s identity, hang up.
– Never divulge passwords or PINs.
– Remember that Microsoft – or someone acting on their behalf – will never proactively call you.
– Watch our short awareness video on telephone support scams
If you believe you have already been a victim
– Get your computer checked for any additional programs or software that may have been installed.
– Contact your bank to stop any further payments being taken.
Report fraud and cyber crime to Action Fraud and receive a police crime reference number.