Be suspicious about *any* cold calls you may get from DELL Computers..

I’ve written a few times about getting cold calls from scammers pretending to be from Microsoft, Symantec and other well-known companies. Now it’s Dell’s turn as it seems their entire customer base has been hacked and if you’re a DELL customer, chances are that scammers now know your details, all the way to when you ordered your Dell computer, your name, address, telephone number, email address as well as the Dell Computer Model number you purchased.

Not much has been said by DELL themselves as yet, apart from one thing a customer reported when he called them where the representative said “Dell has detected hackers, they’re hacking out web site” ..

Dell’s own support forums are full of complaints about the latest phone scam. Another customer but hundreds of their customer’s complaints posted on the web have confirmed the problem to be very real and wide spread. One disgruntled customer wrote: “There is no other way the person would have my name, cell phone number, and know I had a Dell computer if it didn’t come from your company. This is pretty scary, especially since you claim to be able to protect our PCs, but if you can’t even seem to protect our info on your servers how can we ever trust this company again?”

Hundreds of posts on the web with similar complaints confirm this threat to be very real.

In one case, a customer received a call where the scammer suggested he enter their domain name into his “Run” window which would have taken him to a site where he could download software to allow remote access to his system. This undoubtedly would allow the scammer to make a more compelling case that his computer was infected and in need of their high-priced support services.

Apparently this has started happening since at least last May according to an article at eSecurityPlanet about yet another victim of the Dell scam who reported that the scammers had also known his Dell Service Tag number and Express Service Code. Since then ten more victims of the Dell Customer support scam have left comments on the article.

“This scam is still active in October 2015 another disgruntled user claimed. I got a similar call today…”

“This happened to my uncle in October. He lives in an assisted living [facility]… Dell told me today that they are aware of it and the FBI (or some government agency) is investigating it. I was told to cancel his charge card.”

“Placed an order with Dell, two days later I start getting voicemails about ‘confirming info about my order’. I called Dell, and while they were absolutely no help at all, they did confirm it wasn’t them calling…”

Ironically, just eight days before I received my scam phone call in November, the FTC announced that they’d cracked down on a phone scam involving fake Dell technical support which had already cost consumers more than $17 million. (The FTC’s next goal? “[T]o get money back for the victims in this case, and keep the defendants out of the scam tech support business.”) Fake tech support calls are apparently a very profitable business, according to the FTC. “Since at least 2013, Defendants have bilked millions of dollars from consumers throughout the United States…by making consumers believe that they are part of or affiliated with well-known U.S. technology companies, such as Microsoft, Google, Apple, or Dell…

“Then, Defendants peddle their technical support services and charge consumers up to thousands of dollars.”

But unfortunately, the FTC’s announcement makes it clear that that was a much less sophisticated scam that involved simply placing online ads targeted to people searching for solutions to technical problems. (“[I]n some instances, the technicians removed consumers’ antivirus and security software already installed on the computers and replaced it with some other programs…”) It was disturbing to learn that they’d been in business “since at least 2013” before the FTC finally managed to shut them down. Maybe it’s a reminder that there’s lots of different phone scammers out there.

But it’s very disturbing that scammers are now also apparently in possession of service histories — and home phone numbers — for Dell’s customers.

So there you have it folks. A couple of things to remember in order to protect yourself;

  1. Know that large companies like DELL, Microsoft, Symantec, Avast (you get the idea) will NEVER call you to discuss a problem you might be having with your computer. In the grand scheme of things, you, as a customer, are a grain of sand to them on a beach – why would they target you to help with a problem that you yourself didn’t report?
  2. If you DO get a call and the issue they describe just happens to coincide with a problem you’re experiencing with your computer, tell them you will call them back and hang up on them. Then call the REAL number of the company by looking it up on their official website.

I hope this helps and wish you all safe computing in 2016.

Andrew Leniart

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