Watch Out for Tech Support Phone Scams

Watch Out for Tech Support Phone Scams

Direct2Dell

The Official Dell Corporate Blog

Watch Out for Tech Support Phone Scams

It has become an all-too-familiar scenario. You get an unrequested call at home or at work from someone telling you that your computer is infected with a virus and they’ll gladly help. They may claim to be from our partner Microsoft, or they may claim to be from Dell, but your gut tells you something is not right.

Photo of Dell Inspiron desktop in home office

I’m a big fan of trusting my gut, and so should you in this situation. Keep in mind, we do not make unsolicited calls asking to charge you to fix an issue you did not report or previously request help with unless you have signed up for our premium support services like Dell Tech Concierge, Dell Premium Support or Dell ProSupport services.

But, cybercriminals are tricky. They do their homework and learn what they can about you or work hard to gain your trust. They may even tell you things about your computer that you think only a legitimate vendor would know. This is a key element to social engineering – a non-technical method cybercriminals use to trick people into loading malware on their systems or revealing credit card information.

The best way to protect yourself is to simply hang up. But, some customers have told us that the scammers are becoming more relentless - frequently calling them over and over. We regret that they often use our name to perpetuate such harassment and we want to stop it just as much as you.

That’s why, should you decide to do more than simply hang up, we’ve created a new form you can use to report information from these callers that will help us investigate the issue. Some of those details include 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. Information you share through this form will go directly to our Security team, and although you may not hear from them, they will use the information to investigate and to attempt to track down the parties responsible.

You can also report the scam to the following authorities:

Protection of your data is a top priority for Dell. We recommend that you not engage such callers, and never give them your credit card information, access to your computer or any other personal information.

Remember, if you’re unsure, trust your gut and simply hang up.

[Update:  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 was announced here in an update on this topic from our Chief Security Officer in May 2016.]

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  • I have received over 30 + calls from this scam over the past 60 days - these guys are relentless!!!  They use many different phone numbers to include "No Caller ID".  They have my name and my service tag # and phone number.  How did they receive this sensitive information? - looking at you Dell!  Clearly someone breached your service tag / customer data to call with this specific information, as they didn't just guess my service tag #.  The people on the phone have Indian accents and English is not first language.  I have asked them questions then they hang up or curse at me.  Other times that they call using a number they have called from before they immediately hang up or don't say anything (as if they ready notes about calling me) - i just mute them and listen and i can hear them speaking to each other in what sounds like a call center speaking in foreign language (unaware - i assume) that i am listening.  I tell them not to call again but the calls keep coming.  They are really ruining it for other telemarketers as i am so upset about this harassment that if legitimate telemarketers call they also don't get very far either.  I have NEVER divulged   by computer make/model much less service tag # and only purchased this one (directly from Dell) about 1 month before these calls starting coming - again, looking at you Dell!

  • @CyberGuy23 - I regret to hear that you are receiving these calls. Such phishing scams are increasingly more sophisticated, touch not only technology companies, but all industries, and we have devoted considerable resources to addressing them. We have no indication that customer information was obtained through an external attack. 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. I do hope you have taken a moment to share more detail via the form linked above, which can be found at www.dell.com/reportphonescams. We investigate any customer complaint received when there is sufficient information to investigate. ~Laura

  • I've received a few of these calls. One time, I let the guy carry on for about 30 minutes telling me to do various things on my computer. I was just sitting in my garage drinking a beer, sort of enjoying listening to him and pretending to be shocked when he pointed out the "errors" in my Event Logs. I finally tired of it and called the guy out and told him he should be ashamed of what he's doing. He, in turn, begins calling me and my mom every name in the book. I have to admit, I gave it back to him. But, yeah....these guys are scum and I'm not surprised one of them resorted to death threats.

  • I am getting these as well.  I just have to say based on the situation with the laptop in question, and the information they know.  It does look like dell has some security issues.     And if that is the case, they should be going out of their way to let the customers know there is a problem, and to expect this kind of call as they work out the details.  Need to be forthcoming and transparent when this kind of things happens or it will end up doing more damage to the company and brand.

    Right this moment, I am sure there are people falling victim to these scams and if the info these scammers know has come from dell itself, they dell has some serious problems they need to address.  

    I didnt fall victim to the scam so it didnt waste my money but it does sure waste my time and does bring into question how much info was compromised.  

  • @nobodypanic - I'm glad to hear you did not fall victim to this type of scam. As I mentioned before, we continuously evaluate our internal physical and technical security measures to determine if there are additional efforts that would further ensure customer data is secure. And, we encourage our customers to come to us with any information that could facilitate the investigations. I wrote this post for the express purpose of getting word out, so please share with others to help us do that. Thank you! ~Laura

  • Sorry but this does not really own up to what is going on.   These scammers have info they should not.   They knew the service tag, some sort of customer number,  my contact info (phone, full name),  and when the machine was shipped to my door.   How would someone get that info?

    This is no longer just about scammers trying to call me.  Its about how they got information about me and my machine.  Was dell hacked?  it does seem like it.  The nature of the info these people have points at it.

    The problem now is how Dell is handling it.    The longer Dell mishandles this,  more of its customers will fall victim to these scammers.   I have spent all kinds of time on the phone with Dell and they avoid talking about where the info these scammers are using is coming  from.    This is bad, horribly handled and will only get worse unless Dell steps up and admits there is a problem, and properly addresses it.

  • I too have received 3 calls.  My first call happened last night and the other 2 this morning.  The facts are consistent with what else has been reported here:  the perpetrators knew my service tag #, phone number (obviously), name, and Dell support history.  (They knew when I had called previously for something and knew the warranty expiration date for the machine in question).  Dell is clearly at fault here as they have allowed their customer support data to be breached (either through a security breach or perhaps internally sold by their own technical support teams abroad).  These are only guesses of course, but it's Dell's responsibility to protect my data.  I used the form to report the issue and notified the FTC-- but to me it's Dell that should be responsible as it's their negligence (somehow) that my data has ended up in a criminal's hands to harass me.  The calls are pretty haunting at first when you hear that someone knows something about you.

  • I've also experienced these calls this week and have to agree with Jigme that a security breach with Dell must have happened since they had my computer model, service tag, name, phone number, and knew I'd reported a problem to Dell previously. They almost convinced me it was concerning my last call except it had been 5 months since I called Dell Customer Service with an issue. My husband told me to call Dell Customer Sercice and never allow anyone access to my computer. I reported the phone numbers they called me from, too.

  • I have had an event today that is similar to comment from "Cyber"  below.  They have information that would only be available from Dell.  I will report to Dell shortly.  But Dell better fess up to the problem and get there act together on security. This is not evident from "Laura" (Dell) reply.

  • I have received numerous calls.  When I challenged them on being from Dell, they rattled off service tag and previous warranty repair info.  Clearly Dell has been hacked and imo should proactively reach out to customers.  

  • @Jigme, @Bird House, @stevA and @BennyKeck - I'm sorry to hear that you've been the recipient of these calls, but appreciate you taking the time to fill out the form to report it. We have no indication that customer information used in these scams 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. You can read more about that on this more recent blog post from our Chief Security Officer: en.community.dell.com/.../dell-phone-tech-support-scams That post is just part of our ongoing effort to educate our customers on this topic, so watch for more to come.

  • I too have been subject to the nastiness of the Indian scammers. They are nasty and crude and even when you try to get rid of them, they keep coming back. I have never let any of them into my computer, but unfortunately I have called dell support and they have been in my computer numerous times. I believe that one of those times was a scammer that works for you and gave out my information to their friends, because my computer is fu.... up if you know what I mean. How can  the scammers have all my info and know exactly what is wrong with my computer if your tech team did not tell them. I believe I was set up. After your techs tried to fix something they should have been able to, they left something behind in my computer. No where on this blog do I see Dell taking responsibility for this security breach. I can't get anyone from Dell to fix or replace my computer even though I paid extra for this service. I am being told know that it must be a software issue and they don't handle that. Oh unless you pay them extra for it. So know I am stuck with a infected

  • @lineisen - 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. Please help us by sharing information about the calls you've received via dell.com/reportphonescams. You can also read more of the latest on this topic from our Chief Security Officer John McClurg here: en.community.dell.com/.../dell-phone-tech-support-scams

  • I have received a number of calls on both my primary and alternative numbers purportedly from Dell Concierge (my contract expired earlier this year). Two of the three calls today came from Dell Concierge's number which is a contact on my cell phone. The other call had no caller ID. The caller stated as part of Dell Concierge's routine maintenance and monitoring of my computer they had found Microsoft errors coming from it. Despite the fact that the call was shown as coming from Dell, I remained suspicious. I asked him for information to verify that he was from Dell and he proceeded to correctly identify my model computer, its Service Tag and Express code as well as my alternative phone number. I was somewhat satisfied but as he asked me to enter some code on the Run screen, I balked again. My contract had expired. Why would they be monitoring my computer?  I said I wanted a case number so I could call myself and check first. He said that he didn't see how that would help me as the case numbers  change with each call. That was a red flag. I said that was not my experience. He gave me a case number and I hung up. Using the same number as the calls supposedly came from, (877-790-3355) to reach the  "real" Dell Concierge, its agent verified that they had not tried to call me, confirmed my contract had expired and that the case number was not valid. However, the personal information about my computer was correct. Neither that representative nor Dell's fraud department could explain how they had my information or how Dell's  number was used to call me. It occurs to me that perhaps Dell has some rogue Concierge agents overseas, or the fraudsters are using technology I don't understand. Regardless, my personal information has clearly been compromised. I filed a fraud complaint with Dell and the FTC and would urge others experiencing similar calls to to do the same. The FTC's number is 877-382-4357, option 3.

  • @MommysIsland - Way to trust your gut instinct! Thank you for reporting this incident to us through the form at dell.com/reportphonescams, as this means our team investigating the issue is already at work looking into it. I also appreciate your encouragement of others who've experienced similar calls to report them to both us and the FTC. This will aid our ongoing work 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.

  • I haven't myself, but two friends have fallen prey to this scam, resulting in a lot of inconvenience and expense. It is quite pernicious. Write your congress person and demand severe punishment for cyber crime and fraud.

  • This was posted in 10/15, how come I only got the email today? I was the victim of a scam but by computer, not by phone. Danger, error...., you must contact Microsoft Technician immediately...I fell for it and let them on my computer for an hour and finally managed to end it - looked up Microsoft #, called them & no such # as the one I called. Then called Dell and was on for 3 hours trying to fix what they did. It was funny since the things they said sounded just like the fake one which  makes me think, they were probably trained service technicians going rogue. I think the solution is that Dell & Microsoft need to have a store where you can take your computer and not trust some call center in India that you can barely understand - like Apple's genius bar.

  • You said this: "But, cybercriminals are tricky. They do their homework and learn what they can about you or work hard to gain your trust. They may even tell you things about your computer that you think only a legitimate vendor would know. This is a key element to social engineering – a non-technical method cybercriminals use to trick people into loading malware on their systems or revealing credit card information."

    Every time I have heard from these scammers, I have concluded that Dell's systems have been compromised. Not that the scammers have "done their homework" -- that Dell's customer databases are available to hackers.

    Why do I say that? They had my computer's service tag, my computer's model, my name, and my cell phone number. These four pieces of information are known only to Dell, and they started only after returning a laptop to Dell for repairs. Public pieces like this are great, but you need to clean up your systems.

  • I often tell the caller (usually with a heavy accent) who purports to be from the "Windows Department" that I don't use Windows.  That I have a Mac or use Linux.  One caller said that "We have Mac stuff too."  But one  argued with me that his information showed that I "used my Windows computer on Friday."  The take-away from that was that the crooks purchase lists compiled from internet usage.  

    One gave up on me by calling me an "A**hole."  Another said he was going to shut down my computer.  Its a bit of a game I play with them when the mood strikes me.  I have received dozens of the fake calls.  Some suggesting they are from the "Windows Department" and some "we are calling about your Windows computer."  

  • I have received numerous calls from this type of scam but its so obvious calls are not from Dell .I listened to the guy who had an Indian accent for few minutes and then I asked him if people really fell for this type of scam .....he said '' you would be surprised ''.  I still get the calls from ''unknown callers '' on landline number that i used to register with dell . i just don't answer anymore.

  • Last year I was getting these calls about three times a week. I knew it was a scam from the get go. I would play along for a few minutes and I would tell the idiot to take a hike, to put it mildly. They would call on both my home phone and cell phone and had the make model and tag number of the laptop. It appears to me that some of Dells India support staff would be the most likely people to have sold this information to the scammers. After all all the calls come from people speaking with a Indian accent. Half the time you can't understand them.

    If you want to know how got them to stop calling me, I play a game and act like very old man who doesn't know a laptop from a desktop or an iPhone from an iPad. I would tell them to wait a minute and say I got to ask my wife what we have. Then I tell them she says it's an iPad or iPhone made by Samsung. Then I ask them if they could help her with that. That all I hear on the line is silence for a few seconds and then the they hang up. Sometimes I tell them I can't understand them or to please wait until I switch the phone to the ear with the hearing aid. Then I tell them I still can't understand them and ask them to switch me to someone who speaks English like an American. That really put's them off and they hang up.

    I haven't had any Dell support  scam calls for a long time. Now I get phone calls from the IRS scammers telling me that the IRS is filing a lawsuit against me. However, I can talk to them because it's a recording tell me to call a phone number for information. I just hang up when I hear the recording.

  • I have received no fewer than 50 calls in the past three years. These calls are always made by VOIP. These calls are coming from outside of the USA. I have tried to stop these calls but I was quite unsuccessful in doing so.  I mean you get a call from a guy with a Pakistani accent who says his name is "Dave" from customer service. Yeah right. I try and report it. I have reported it many times. Unfortunately all I have found is that the Federal Trade Commission is more than useless when it comes to helping. I don't even know why they exist. Now, when these people call I just waste their time. I get great satisfaction aggravating these guys to the point where they threaten me. What can they do to me? They are 7000 miles away.

  • I get 2 to 3 of these calls each day of the week. This has been going on for the past 6 months. No matter how many times I register with the government's Do Not Call registry (which is useless and a waste of time and taxpayer's money, but that is another subject), these calls continue. Each number that comes into my cell phone is added to my block list. That list grows and grows. What can Dell do about this, since the incoming number changes with each incoming call? The only computers I own are Dell computers. Each one I own was bought online through Dell.com and when one of these calls get through and leave a message, they are able to tell me that my computer is a Dell laptop or desktop.Sometimes they even tell me they are calling from Dell. They have not given me a service tag number or an account number, but I am willing to bet that it is just a matter of time before they can rattle off that number to my voicemail. How is it that they have this information? Either you have had a breach in security or someone inside your organization has sold information. I would hate to think that Dell has sold this information after being assured many times that this is not a practice of Dell. What good would it do me to report these calls (each day I might add)to Dell  if these scammers change their phone number daily, hourly, continuously? I work from home so you cannot imagine how angry it makes me for my cell to ring with a phone number that I do not know. If I were to call Dell on your 800 line to report these scams, You cannot imagine how angry it would make me to wait for God only knows how long to speak to someone about this. I have neither the time or patience for these interruptions or consumption of my time. So, what can and will Dell do about these calls/scammers? On a side note, if some are caught, I would consider it an honor and a gift if I could just spend 5 minutes with one. Justice can be served in under 5 minutes.

  • On the national news the other day, they did a story on NOMOROBO. Check your providers website site. Many encourage its use. It stop robocalls.

    I am with Comcast. On their site they tell now to install Nomorobo. It is simple, but took a while. Once I did what Comcast said to do, it did not seem to work. I called Comcast and escalated. You know it is not working cause Nomorobo keeps calling and says it is not working. After a few calls (late in the evening), I took my number out of the Nomorobo site. The next day I put the number back in Nomorobo and it worked.

    NO MORE ROBO Calls (hooray), except real charities and political ***.

    Anyway I think Comcast took awhile to update my preferences, that is why it did not take immediately. Comcast was great about escalating.

    Check your provider. One catch I use it on a landline, it is free. If you use it on a cell I think it is $5 a month.

  • I have gotten phone calls too, and never bought a Dell. I think it's bigger than just Dell, they called my son who own a Thinkpad and uses Linux. They just are crooks, don't blame Dell. And just like the healthcare industry, government, and the newspaper, all it takes is one bad employee to blow millions of people's private info. We had an employee here get into the list of subscribers who had their papers on vacation hold, and sold that list to a gang of thieves who went and robbed hundreds of those addresses. Who's to say Dell, Microsoft, an anyone else doesn't have some bad people working on the inside?