Warning: Several units at UAB have received harassing calls from telephone scammers, known as “cyber extortionists.” This is a known issue documented by the FBI and AT&T.
If you receive persistent calls from one of these scammers, it will probably be under the pretense of “payday loan collections.” The scammer may know a lot of information about your identity, including your work number, which they actually obtained from a third party. They will attempt to harass you into making a payment to them just to leave you alone. Otherwise, they will continue to call and harass you at work.
UAB IT and HSIS recommend this activity be reported to the following numbers: AskIT at 996-5555 or HSIS Helpdesk at 934-8888, depending on which group supports the affected phone. To help fix the problem, we also recommend directing the calls to a phone number where they can be screened before sending the call to the department or unit. If necessary, the phone number under attack can be blocked from outside callers.
This allows normal internal operations to continue, until the scammer understands they are wasting their time, and they move on.
About the scam:
Support Desk Scams are perpetrated through a phone call. Typically, the scammer will have a thick foreign accent and claim to be from some company’s (e.g. Microsoft, Apple) Support Services in the Technical Department. The scammer will tell you something along the lines of “Your computer is seriously infected and has been causing a lot of trouble on the internet” or that “Your machine is at serious risk for infection”. Some scammers even offer you the opportunity to verify their ID by typing a specific command into your computer but this is not a legitimate method of verification. Once the scam caller feels they have your trust, they will ask you to take one of the following actions:
- visit a website that will allow them complete access to your machine
- download something they claim will help but is actually a virus
- purchase an item that will protect your machine but will do more harm than good and require you provide them will personal information.
What you should look for and know:
- Microsoft will never call you and say you’re machine is at risk/compromised or that you have been causing problems on the internet.
- Always ask for a call back number and say you’ll call them back. Google the phone number they give you. It is likely someone else has posted complaints about scammer online.
- Never purchase and/or download something blindly from the internet based on the suggestion of an untrusted source.
- Never give anyone access to your machine that you do not know and explicitly trust.
Remember, it is very simple to avoid being a victim by using caution. If you ever have legitimacy concerns about a phone call or an email, contact UAB AskIT @ AskIT@uab.edu or 205-996-5555.