Phone Scam: Your Wireless Network is Spreading A Virus

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A scam designed to gain access to your computer, steal your identity, drain your bank accounts and use your credit card information is making the rounds. This one seems to be a take-off from a similar scam highlighted here in an earlier fraud alert warning of a telemarketing scam that involves callers claiming to be from "Microsoft Tech Support" offering help to consumers who need to remove a virus from their computer. 

The below guest post is a Fraud Alert offered by fellow advocate, Jim Malmberg, Executive Director of American Consumer Credit Education Support Services, (ACCESS) a non-profit, 501(c)(3) consumer advocacy group whose primary purpose is to disseminate credit education information and assistance to the general public.

New ID Theft Scam Coming to Your Home Computer
Home computer users in Connecticut have been receiving calls telling them that their home computer networks have been spreading a computer virus. They are then asked to provide sensitive information about their home network to the caller. Anyone falling for the scam is essentially telling the caller everything they need to know to break into their network, and maybe even their computer.

The calls have been coming from a phone number that is spoofed. So far, the people receiving the calls have said that the phone number appears to belong to McGraw Hill, but caller ID's can be spoofed to look like they come from anyone, including law enforcement agencies.

When victims answer their phone, they are told that their home network is spreading a dangerous computer virus to other computers and they are asked to provide all of the information necessary for the caller to log into their network wirelessly.

Anyone who has access to this information can intercept any communications going across the network. This includes passwords, bank account information, social security numbers... pretty well any data that is transmitted. In many cases, they will also be able to see other computers that use the network and gain direct access to the hard drives on each of them. This could allow they to implant malware and directly download any information that is stored on those devices.

There are absolutely no barriers to entry for this scam. It is inexpensive for anyone to start this type of scam and very difficult for law enforcement to track down the people behind it. The victims never see the face of the person behind the scam, and there is a real possibility that the people placing the calls have actually altered their voices electronically. In other words, it's a scam with almost no risk to the scam artists. Because of that, it will almost certainly spread across the country very rapidly.

You should never give out information about how to access your computer network - home or work - unless you actually know who you are furnishing that information to. Law enforcement agencies and companies involved in computer protection do not call consumers asking for network log-on information.

If you receive a call similar to the one described here, get as much information as you possibly can from the caller without giving out any information that could compromise you or your computer network. If you have caller ID, make a note of the phone number calling you. Then make your own phone call... to the police. 

Jim Malmberg
Find additional variations of this scam and learn how to report fraud by reading an earlier blog: Beware the 3-Digit Security Code Ruse /Microsoft Windows Support Telephone Scam

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