It seems like there will never be a shortage of crappy humans doing shady things on this planet. Since the beginning of time, people have found creative ways to rip people off. Technology has been great for helping track down scammers, but it’s also been a tool for those same scammers to try to take your money away from you.
I spent a pretty good chunk of my evening helping out my neighbor who was just doing some work on the internet, misspelled a URL, and ended up getting a bit of a scare.
Something was really wrong with her computer according to the big red screen with the shield and X on it…but thankfully there was a support phone number where she could get help!
Fortunately, everything turned out okay for her. But here’s how things went down.
About the Help Desk Scam, Adware, and Malware
Basically, the way this attack works is pretty simple. You visit a site (or get a pop-up advertisement from adware that’s installed on your computer) that makes you think your computer is in danger. Often, it’s just a website running a script that is designed to scare the crap out of people who aren’t tech savvy. In this case, the website would play a loud “error tone” mp3 on loop and cause your mouse cursor to look like your computer was struggling to do something while it basically locked the browser.
How to Fix Malware Infections
Sure, it’s an easy fix most of the time…just end task on the browser, open it back up, and if the page tries to load, close the page before it can finish loading. Sometimes it’s a fast process, so you’ve got to be quick. Otherwise, you might see if your browser has a safe mode option. Load into that, then force it not to remember previously opened tabs.
While it’s looping the sound and freaking you out, it also will often generate a message with a “support phone number” that you call and speak to a friendly representative that is totally willing to help troubleshoot your system via remote connection software like TeamViewer (non-affiliate) or something like it. They’ll show you log entries that honestly don’t really mean much, and give you shady info that SOUNDS legit to someone that can’t tell a laptop from a modem. After a few minutes of really trying to convince you that your computer is broken, they will try to tell you that they can fix it for you…for a price. They’ll take you to their payment screen, ask you to enter your banking info, then hit you with a pretty hefty bill…all while pretending to fix a problem that isn’t even there.
How to Keep Yourself Safe
Always, always double check your URL before hitting enter. Use some kind of security software like Spybot Search and Destroy (non-affiliate) or Malwarebytes AKA mbam (affiliate) to at least scan your system after you run into something like this, because you never know what they’ll install on your computer either through remote connection or by the scripts running on the web page.
And if you DO call the fake help desk, DO NOT EVER let them access your computer, take your bank or other private information, etc.
But let’s face it…none of us want to be nice about this.
So with that in mind, I’m supporting a measure to start calling them out. Or just calling them or whatever. Here is a list of the help desk scam phone numbers that I have found so far. Also…some of the bad URLs that you want to avoid.
List of Help Desk Scam Phone Numbers and Domains
- 855-383-1807 (Name: Shweta)
- 855-909-0303 (Unknown Level 3 Tech)
- 8plhd.xyz (scam domain)
If you have any scammer phone numbers you would like to add, leave them below in the comments. I will update this post periodically when we get new information.