Beware Of PC Remote Access Assistance Scams

Admittedly, I don’t know EVERYTHING about computers. I know enough to break them and enough to fix them most of the time. But, occasionally I need help.  Generally that help comes in the form of remote assistance from Dell, where I buy all my PCs.

With each PC I get the 3 year Dell warranty, so if something fails they replace or will come in remotely and fix. Just this week, my built in webcam failed. Little bugger was working just fine, then, nothing.  So I reinstalled the software, rebooted and still no webcam. My fear was the hardware failed so I called Dell.

Dell tech support agents always request the user log into a website and punch a code, and then download a program that allows for them to come in and remotely access my PC to diagnose the issue. Every time this occurs I watch each move they make so I’m comfortable knowing they aren’t downloading or installing anything not approved to later access my PC. That said, I trust Dell and don’t think they’d do that, but its good security to watch.

The Windsor Star reports “police are warning people about a new scam to hit the area after criminals almost duped a man into handing over remote access to his computer, along with all his personal and financial information. The so-called technician started by telling the man his computer had sent an error message to Microsoft and he was calling to help him rectify the problem. The scammer told him to press “Windows Key + R” which opens the “Run” dialogue.”

Fortunately, the intended victim got suspicious and hung up.

In this process, if the victim moved forward, he would have inevitably downloaded a program and installed it on his PC that would have allowed the criminal the ability to come into the persons PC any time he wanted.

Any time anyone emails or calls you with a ruse that your PC needs attention, just hang up or delete the email.

And as for my webcam? Dells tech went into my device manager and uninstalled the cam and went to Dells website and got an updated version of my cams software. Apparently, an update I did corrupted the cameras software and the version I had was conflicting. I could have figured this out and it might have taken me another 30-90 minutes to do so. But one quick call to Dell and 10 minutes later it was done. Nice.  Not all remote assistance is bad.

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist to Home Security Source discussing home security and identity theft on TBS Movie and a Makeover.