Those Annoying PC Phone Scammers Have Switched From Microsoft To Telstra

Those Annoying PC Phone Scammers Have Switched From Microsoft To Telstra

We’ve written on multiple occasions about the importance of ignoring scammers who ring claiming to be from Microsoft support and then try and con people into installing malware onto their machines and paying for fake “support”. That tactic remains common, but there’s a new local twist: some of the scammers are now claiming to be from Telstra or BigPond.

The federal SCAMwatch site notes the change, which isn’t at all surprising: just as Windows is the most common operating system, Telstra is the most common ISP. While the scammers will ring plenty of people who use a different ISP, they’ll also hit a lot of potentially vulnerable customers.

I realise most Lifehacker readers are savvy enough to recognise these scams, and potentially to amuse themselves by asking difficult questions. However, our less-informed friends and relatives might fall for it. Remind anyone who is likely to ring you for tech support that they will never get a call from Microsoft or Telstra or anyone offering to help them fix a problem on their PC. If that happens, they should hang up, after screaming abuse or loudly blowing a whistle down the phone if that makes them feel better.

SCAMwatch [via ZDNet]


  • I’ve had at least 40 of these phone calls over the last 2 weeks. The obvious thing when they call is a long pause and then someone with a very strong Indian accent, almost unintelligible comes on and refuses to listen to you. If my 2 year old son is home, I just say “Here’s someone more qualified to talk to you” and hand it to him. I don’t get why when I clearly get that it’s a scam that they keep calling.

  • I don’t know if it’s because they’re hooking more suckers in Toowoomba because of the large retiree population, but these assholes just won’t quit! As with ‘Bryden’ we’ve had dozens of these calls. I’ve tried everything from humouring them until they realize I’m wasting their time, asking them for their number so I can call them back, too outright abuse! They just keep calling!! #[

  • I get these calls on a daily basis, and have done for a long time. I’ve never had a call from anyone claiming to be from Microsoft though. It’s always Telstra.

  • Do what I do. Play along far enough to get the logmein ID code, then from that point whenever they ask you something just respond, “I like cheese.” When they finally hang up, report them to logmein with the ID number.

    Last time I did that I got put onto the manager, then put back to the first person who firmly rebuked me for not taking them seriously.

    The saddest thing was it ended up being the most fun I had that week, and I’m kinda hoping they’ll call again in this new spate…

  • I never used my home phone much, so I solved this problem by putting a fax machine on my landline. I suspect that no-one is calling from overseas and talking to that.

    Once I start getting junk faxes offering some scam, then I’ll have to rethink I guess.

  • lol i actually work for Telstra Plus, and we do call some customers offering free consultations and support 😛 just ask them for a 6 digit “C” or “D” number which would be their staff number, if they can provide you it, then they’re genuine

    eg D123456

    • Being provided with a staff number proves nothing — anyone can rattle off a number. In the event this does happen, I’d be asking for a number to call back on, and double-checking it was a genuine Telstra number.

      On the whole, hanging up is easier and (given the prevalence of this scam) more useful advice.

      • A real Telstra consultant would also be able to provide you with details about your service – username, usage plan, etc. Plus about five minutes of conversation should be all it takes to tell a scammer from an actual agent – they don’t try very hard to pretend.

        • I’m pretty sure I was rung by a real Telstra consultant a few months ago trying to get me to move to a different plan. After introducing himself he asked for my date of birth to “confirm my identity” which I refused to give. I told him he rang me so it was up to him to prove his identity. The only information he could give was my account number but that didn’t help as I didn’t have a phone bill lying around. After a few minutes of stale mate I hung up. My feeling is that it was genuine but you never know…

        • “Plus about five minutes of conversation should be all it takes to tell a scammer from an actual agent – they don’t try very hard to pretend.”

          You give them 5 minutes to determine if they’re legit?

          I hang up way before that!

      • After the amount of calls we’ve had Angus, I’m more inclined to vent on them with a flurry of expletives! They have generally hung up by the time I’m finished! Oh, but don’t worry, I do make sure it’s them before letting loose…! #]

  • I got a call from a guy, strung him on for a good half hour..Conversation went something like this (truncated for brevity):
    Me: “What’s your ABN?”
    Him: “We don’t have one as we’re based in the UK” (?)
    Me: “Oh ok.. can I have a mailing address then?”
    Him: “ohh ok our offices are at xx Coventry St, Southbank Vic”
    Me: *checks Bing Maps* “that address doesn’t exist, I work right near where that would be”
    Him: “err umm umm check our website, the windows support dot com”
    Me: “That doesn’t work, it times out”
    Him: “Support with three P’s, yes?”
    Me: “Errr…That’s not how you spell support”
    Him: (quick as a flash) “You know when you try to get a Bigpond or Optusnet address, sometimes you cannot get the name that you want?”
    Me: “yes…”
    Him: “well that’s what happened here. We use three P’s”
    Me: “So you’re from where?”
    Him: “Windows Support”
    Me: “Oh as in Microsoft Windows?”
    Him: “No, just Windows”
    Me: “Oh but you’re affiliated with Microsoft?”
    Him: “No, we’re a separate company”
    Me: “So why are you calling me?”
    Him: “We detected a virus on your network”
    Me: “How’d you do that?”
    Him: “We detected it on our systems”
    Me: “Ohhh are you working with the cyber police? Did you backtrace my IP?”
    Him: *click*

    Me: *calls back on caller ID*
    Him: “err…hello?”
    Me: “Hi, I just got disconnected”
    Him: “Yes sir, our technical department have gone home. You will need to call back in the morning or go visit our offices at xx Coventry St”
    Me: *click*..Dinner time.

  • If ever in doubt, simply hang-up. Phone Telstra/Bigpond support directly and go from there, asking whether they have contacted you. Register your concerns and ask that they trace your calls for a period of time in order to track down these serial pests.

  • LOL.
    This guy called me, and I told him that he was going to steal my money, and I basically followed on, then stuffed with them on LogmeIn by moving my mouse, and kept deleting the Systemcare pro 2 off my desktop so they’d have to send it over and over.
    Eventually I told them to f*** off.

    • The whistle bit has backfired for me , I’ve been getting even more calls claiming I have a virus on my PC then before lol.
      Perhaps they like it , or it’s become a joke amongst them to call back to those that retaliate to their calls. Don’t know why as they’d only be wasting their money and time.
      My partner now picks up the phone and hangs up without saying anything , he figures anyone we know will then ring our mobile . Not very helpful !

  • I have got about 60 of these calls since I got my landline connected 3 months ago.
    Most sound like the same guy with an indian accent, some are a women with an indian accent, they always claim to be from microsoft support or optus.

    Most times I am amused because its so obvious its a scam you’d have to be so stupid to fall for it but i am starting to get sick of it.

    • If you honestly think this will make any difference, you are very much mistaken.

      They’re already breaking the law, so it’s not like this will make any difference.

      • These serial pests are from overseas call centers and they have no idea what the “Do not call register is” so you’d be wasting your time . I now have a whistle next to the phone and string them along a bit to make sure they are paying attention 🙂 . I had one going for ages but that now is boring so they get about 8 seconds before I blast them . Hope it works , these people have no decency and won’t care one second they could be ripping some unsuspecting person of their money . total bottom of the bath Scum

    • Done it when it first came out, and it does not work for things like this as its a scam, and not an actual company that is being under guidelines.

      We’ve had three the past 2 weeks, where i said straight out “not interested” then they hang up, or dad gets them to explain how they detected a virus when we dont have a computer, and they have difficulty trying to explain. What got me worried was though (a call earlier this year) was that somehow the guy recited name and address when i asked him how he got this phone number as we never gave “Microsoft” our number or details.

      Late last year it also got to a point they yelled abuse at us saying they had called the federal police and be over shortly to arrest us, we just laughed and hung up and waited for a knock on the door, and long behold no one turned up 😛

  • I’m tempted to setup a Virtual Machine, with a “how to hack into a machine via an open Logmein connection” document, and have a fancy program to fake hacking their machine and have some fun with them.

    But alas i don’t have the time to do it.

  • Client of mine actually paid this mob. Yep totally naive ex school teacher(maths lol), but it was fun for him.

    What the idiots did though was install a torrent client then download an ISO image of Windows 7. He’d left the PC on for 24 hours and, upped his download quota from 400MB/month to 7GB/month, on a 3G connection.

    When I turned up, the file was only 50Kbytes in size(Bigpond don’t allow torrents on 3G). The key they’d given him for W7 Ulitmate was from a MSDN account.

    He’d paid in 2 amounts. 1st was for $360. 2nd was $60 lifetime tech’ support.

    And that’s how the bastards operate.

  • Another trick – when the scammer calls, tell them to ‘Please hold” then put the mouthpiece of the phone in front of the radio – the scammer can then listen to MUSAK, while you do more important things. Not sure how long they “hold” but who cares.

  • Bought a T-Hub, and it was defective, they sent me a new one, also defective. They said wait for a software upgrade to see what happens – squat. Took 3 months for Telstra to cancel my service after requesting them to do so, have a bill for that and a bill for a defective T-Hub and they won’t budge. I know plenty of other people with defective T-Hubs and a couple with T-Boxes chucked in the bottom of their wardrobes. You decide, but I think the whole thing stinks.

  • Heres a number for all. guy claiming to be from telsta went by jack then thomas the next day 02 8091 5499 let him have it i have been even answers hi this is telstra tech support makes me so angry even called telstra and complained he is still operating

  • Telstra’s greed allows these scammers to have access to local phone numbers. These scammers use Skype or similar cheap subscriptions to route a call through the bogus local number. Telstra know who they are, after all someone has to pay the line rental. Either Telstra clamp down on providing local phone numbers to overseas based operations or the Federal Government pass a law banning all phone companies from providing a local phone connections to any business entity that does not have an ABN number or no domestic phone to any entity that does not have a local address.
    Bottom line is these scammers can be stopped but as usual money rules.

  • Thought I would tell about one method I use.
    As soon as the call comes I asked “How did you get this number? Are you an acquaintance of the victim? How well did you know this person? Do you know if the deceased has any enemies that would like to see him killed?
    Now I never say I am the police but I do half cover my hand over the phone and yell something like ” You! cover the body with something”
    Just about every time the caller has starts to explain he doesn’t know the victim was was cold canvasing so then I ask who is he/she working for as we would like to interview that person.
    Around about this time into the call I hear a distinctive click and the line goes dead.
    It may not stop all calls as there seems to be so many groups pulling off the same scam but bit by bit my phone number is taken off a lists.
    I turn a frustrating call into a bit of fun.
    So instead of being angry have some fun at the expense of someone who is making a living out of cheating people of their hard earned money.
    Just remember to never claim to be a Government official, unless you really are.

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