Questionable and Expensive Advice: Inside those “You Have Malware! Call Now!” Pop-Ups

If you’re the designated tech support in your family, you’ve probably had someone approach you about those pop-ups that warn about the doom and gloom that’s about to befall that person’s computer if they don’t call the number on the pop up right then and there.

The warnings are as real as a three dollar bill and the offer of tech support is, of course, a come-on for money. But one blogger decided to call and find out what he could about the scam.

According to Lenny Zeltser, the person who answered the phone on the other end of the line from Help Desk National didn’t sound like he was a Nigerian prince. Rather, the person spoke in “non-accented North American English”. But what was curious was  the choice of wording: the person was with “the operating system” when asked if they worked for Dell or Microsoft and that he recommended using “STOPzilla”, apparently anti-virus/spyware software that isn’t very well-regarded that’s also a “Microsoft Silver” product (“Microsoft Gold” products are for people or companies “using T1s and servers and things like that”) that was being sold at a considerable markup (natch).

They’ll also take control of the computer using a remote desktop app (what could possibly go wrong with that?), and offer “senior discounts.” How nice of them — though one person Zeltser spoke to was a senior and paid over $200 for a 15 minute fix of the alleged problem.

It’s a very interesting read and something to forward on to the people who might very well be victims of this sort of “tech support”.

Photo by Avi Schwab (froboy)/flickr.

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