Telephone Tech Support Scams Continue to Rise

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Photos of telephone scam suspects in black hoods being deported from Kenya to China recently made headlines and cast quite a dramatic image for a problem that is affecting more and more of us all each day.

hand hold telephone

 

On April 5, 2016, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) released an alert on tech-support themed telephone scams. They suggest:

  • Don’t give control of your computer to anyone who calls you offering to “fix” your computer.
  • Never give out or confirm your financial or sensitive information to anyone who contacts you.
  • Getting pressure to act immediately? That’s a sure sign of a scam. Hang up.
  • If you have concerns, contact your security software company directly. Use contact information you know is right, not what the caller gives you.

As we noted here for our customers last year, we have set up a form through which you can report when someone pretending to be from Dell tries to trick you into giving up private information or downloading software to your computer. We now also have a phone number you can call (8am-5pm Central) to report these scams to us: 866-453-1742. If you have already filled out the form, there is no need to call. It is simply an alternate way to deliver the same information to us. This information is securely sent directly to our team that investigates these issues.

Increasingly, we are hearing that the phone scammers appear to have Dell-centric information, such as service tags, but we have no indication that customer information used in the scams has been obtained through an external attack.

That doesn’t mean we are dismissing the issue. We have assembled a team of experts that span Dell’s security, information technology, customer support, privacy, legal and communications organizations to focus on it. And, we are evaluating our internal physical and technical security measures to determine if there are additional efforts that would further ensure our customer data is secure.

We also investigate every customer complaint received, when there is sufficient information to investigate, and we are actively working with both local and national law enforcement agencies and other corporations experiencing similar challenges to pursue action against those who seek to defraud our customers.

You can help us by continuing to report information such as the phone number used to contact you, any information they know about your Dell system, and the name of any program they want you to download. Although you may not hear directly from our Security team, they will use the information to investigate and track down the parties responsible.

The information our customers are already providing through the form at dell.com/reportphonescams has directly led to our ability to shut down fraudulent web sites that are used by both phone and email scammers to appear as if they are from Dell.

Let me reiterate, that the safest thing you can do if you suspect a caller is fraudulent is to hang up. While Dell does offer some services that will proactively assist you with support issues should you opt into them, we do not make unsolicited calls asking to charge you to fix an unreported issue.

But, if you have information that could help us stop this, I urge you to share it at dell.com/reportphonescams. And share that link or this post with your friends and family, so that they will know what to do if they get one of these calls.

I thank you for your assistance, and commit to you that stopping these scammers is a top priority at the highest levels of our organization.

Image by Martin Cathrae via Creative Commons

 

[Editor’s Note: As mentioned above, we are working with several law enforcement agencies on this issue and the Federal Bureau of Investigation Internet Crime Complaint Center has asked us to encourage recipients of phone scam calls to file complaints with them, in addition to reporting Dell-related calls to us. To do so, visit: http://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx

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16 thoughts on “Telephone Tech Support Scams Continue to Rise

  1. I regularly receive calls from DELL (Scam) stating my computer is downloading malicious file from web,

    How come the Scammer knows my service tag & name details.. Was there any Data breach from DELL database ?

    WHY DELL DIDN'T LET'S KNOW ABOUT WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED ?????

  2. @rich9nyy – We are working to spread the word about avoiding phone scams through multiple communication channels. This post, and my previous post on the topic last year, are just one aspect of the full plan. Your assistance in sharing this information with your friends and family is greatly appreciated, too.

  3. @dineshkumarjkk – I am sorry to hear that you’ve been targeted by these scammers. We have no indication that customer information was obtained through an external attack. However, we are not dismissing the issue. We have assembled a team of experts that are focused on investigating it, and we continuously evaluate our internal physical and technical security measures to determine if there are additional efforts that would further ensure this customer data is secure.

  4. I have been contacted by what I believe are scammers also trying to gain access by representing themselves as Dell Technical Support.  

  5. The scammers seem to have a lot of information that could only have been obtained from Dell databases??:  my e-mail, my computer model and serial number, my service tag, my date of purchase.  Was Dell hacked?  and if so, why have we not heard about it?

  6. Obviously the info these scammers have, brand of computer, service tag number Etc. was obtained from Dell.  Now Dell's Security Expert says opting into Dell's Premium support will help to get your computer fixed.  Why should I have to pay Dell more money to fix my computer when it is Dell's fault the info was compromised in the first place?……..???

  7. I too have and continue to receive these phone calls.  I reported them to the Federal Trade Commission and nothing has improved.  I am slightly handicapped and getting to a phone in my home is not always easy.  I have tried to block the calls, which helps for a short while but then the calls get through again.  In fact yesterday I was on the phone with a Dell tech concerning a problem and I received a phone call from one of the scammers at the same time, using the same phone number.  The tech was aware I was answering the call and he made note it was a scammer and the phone number being used.  It is pure harassment, Dell or the Federal Trade Commission needs to do something.  

  8. Here it is 3 months after this post, and nothing has changed.  You guys cling to the whole "no evidence of external attack", yet isn't the fact that malicious actors have access to our service tags (and, in at least one call, the date of purchase of my computer) pretty much irrefutable evidence of an external attack?  If the naked picture that you had on your phone is suddenly on TMZ, you would assume your phone was hacked even if you can't find any malware or known vulnerabilities.  Just because you don't see the vector doesn't mean you haven't been compromised, especially in light of the fact that you have thousands of reports of people being contacted by these guys with data that they could have ONLY gotten from Dell.

  9. Your "Report Phone Scam" page (www.dell.com/reportphonescams) is broken, and every Captcha Code entered gets rejected.  I can't report the latest scam until you fix it.  Thanks.

    Ned Flaherty

  10. @Ned_Flaherty – Hate to hear you've been hit by these scammers. The form appeared to be working when I tried it just now, but I will alert out web team to investigate. (Also removed your email and phone number from your comment here to keep that information that much further away from future scammers)

  11. I just recieved a call from what i thought was dell customer service. The agent that sounded real on the phone listed my service tag on my laptop and told me to download a remote access software and install it to the computer and I did. the agent stated your computer is in critical of failing and transferred me to a techinical service member to help me and told me wait on the phone and the agent proceeded to access my computer and try to block me from viewing the screen by freezing the screen. the one thing they did not anticipate is that my computer was connected to a sever at this time where i could monitor everything. i took over the computer and asked why he was looking threw my email and trying to access my bank accounts and the agent tried to play dumb by saying" im getting rid of your errors" and i then stated "soory but i can see everything your doing". the agent then called me a liar where i then took a video shot of what he was doing and uploaded it to the computer. the agent then opened notepad and wrote the following <ADMIN NOTE: Profanity removed as per TOU> not sure what this means but once the agent hung up the phone, I then called Dell customer service and found out that no one called me from dell even though the phone number was the same number i called back. I am uninstalling all of the software they told me to install and I'm going to retrace the signature the person left behind. I suppose you can say never mess with unknownuser199.

  12. Dear Dell,

    Like everyone else who has posted to your many different blog posts about this topic, I too have been targeted by these scammers.  I receive 3-4 calls per week, every week for the last nine months.  I would give you the numbers they call from, but every time the caller ID is blocked, displaying 10-11 numbers that do not construct an actual phone number.  Fortunately I do know that no reputable support service would ever call a consumer in this fashion, so I have not fallen victim to this scam.  However, besides the fear that they have somehow obtained other personal information of mine through your security gaffe, and besides the time and energy that is wasted every time they call me, I now find myself policing your mistakes with staff members, family members, and most recently with my elderly father in law, who unfortunately did fall victim to this scam.

    I'm not writing today trying to find out what happened or what can be done to stop the calls, as I now know you will not explain how this happened, and will do nothing to help fix it.  I'm writing to tell you today you have forever lost a customer in me, and any business I run.  It is evident your information was breached, either internally or externally, yet you continue to lie about this fact and evade even discussing how this has happened.  As everyone else who has posted a reply here has pointed out to you, the personal information of mine these scammers have could only have come from you.  Allowing such a breach to happen is unacceptable; not owning up to it is unforgiveable.

  13. I agree totally with ajward24 above. Dell has wasted my time and money, your support is awful. Thanks aj for shortening my post. I feel there is no excuse, none, none what-so-ever, for not coming clean on this. WHAT ELSE DID THEY GET!!!!? Fool me? No, the scammers were good and have all my Dell info, but not that good. Not sending mail and/or calling your customers is malpractice. Never again will Dell get a dime in sales from me.

  14. I was just in the middle of a VERY, detailed post.  I have a substantial amount of information about this which I reported to Dell Tech Concierge (specifically) in latter 2014.  I reported directly to DTC, to the highest status manager that DTC told me was, even, reachable by any DTC customer.  I was on hold many, many times, while my call kept being transferred to higher and higher and higher statuses of upermost managers of DTC.   I could actually recognize the scam caller's voice.  I knew his name, I knew the exact date(s) and exact time(s) he had been remoted onto my Dell computer and we, also were speaking with one another on the phone during his being remoted onto my computer.  I was told by DTC uppermost managers that this person had been recently fired.  He had been on my computer in latter August 2014.

    I had been typing my post WHILE I am on hold listening to the usual Dell music–since, this time I decided to call the phone number Dell has provided to report these scams (866) 453-1742.  So far I have been on hold (Dell music and all) for almost 60 minutes.  The post I was typing, immediately prior to this one–went into "la La Land" on this site–due to some Dell Website glitch/malfunction.  Now, I do not have time to re-type post of EXCEEDINGLY detailed information I have about this extremely serious matter.  However, I will attempt to do so later.

    By the way, I just received–yet another of these scam calls today less than 2 hour ago.  No, not the same voice–no not the DTC tech who had been fired at some point after he had been remoted onto my computer in August, 2014.  During today's scam call, first I was talking to one Indian-accented male–I was playing along, and suddenly, a different man–different male Indian accent–a great deal less of an Indian accent, was talking to me instead.   They had called at 1:15PM and made a commitment to call me back in 2 hours (3:15PM).  That is only 6 minutes from right now.  (I have now been on hold listening to the usually Dell music (800) 453-1742 for MORE THAN one hour.  This causes me to wonder . . . 'How serious IS  Dell, REALLY, if customers with extremely detailed, extremely helpful information–such as I am–have to stay on hold (listening to the usual Dell music) for more than an hour?  And who knows , possibly HOURS AND HOURS–?  —when it is very well known that the phone disconnects on the Dell side of the call–very frequently.

    I am 99% sure that customers' records being stolen, copied, abused, etc. has all been an "inside job" by Dell employees (and/or so-called actual Dell Employees who are really all 3rd-party contractors hired by Dell.

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