Warning: Skype Urgent Online Repair Scam
I just got a phone call on my Skype number which was very strange. It looked like a virus warning, and the caller’s name was 'SYSTEM NOTICE - URGENT ONLINE REPAIR'. I assume this is bogus... right?
Don't Fall For the Skype Online Repair Scam
Now that Microsoft owns it, Is Skype somehow scanning your computer for viruses, and calling users to give advice on how to fix malware problems? Of course not -- it would be a silly for a phone app to turn into an anti-virus program.
But where there are lots of fish, you will always find fishermen. The same is true of online scam victims and their predators. One novel variation on a tried-and-true lure has been popping up on Skype lately. Here is how it goes:
You have Skype running, waiting for a call. Sure enough, up pops a notification window from an unknown caller, displaying this title: *** Call from SYSTEM NOTICE - URGENT ONLINE REPAIR ***. I've been getting 2 or 3 of these calls every day for the past week, and they are very annoying.
If you accept the call, you will find it's from an automated dialer. A recording of a man's voice recites this message in an urgent tone:
"This is an automated computer systems alert for [insert date]. Your system's speed and performance is below average. Your computer protection service is not active. Immediately go to www.SS###.com to reactivate computer protection and perform full system diagnostic and repair."
I obscured the site name in the preceding paragraph. You don't want to go there! Visitors to this website are treated to a phony "malware scan" while malicious software is sneakily downloaded to their computers in background.
Answering The Call (Metaphorically, Of Course)
Let me clear up some confusion about this Skype "urgent online repair" scam. This message and the related scam is not from Skype, or its corporate parent Microsoft. Just receiving the scam call does not mean that your computer is infected. And further, you cannot harm your computer just by answering the phone call. You'd have to manually key in the website that the scammers mention in their message, before any damage is done.
If you did get one of these calls, and you went to the scammer's website, don't panic. Most likely, your anti-virus software protected you from any drive-by attack or malicious downloads. But just to be sure, I suggest a scan with the Free MalwareBytes AntiMalware tool or one of these Free Anti-Virus Programs.
There are several ways to deal with these Skype phishing calls.
- Ignore and don't answer them. It takes only one click to hang up on the scammers.
- If you do answer, don't follow any instructions you may hear.
- Block and report the scammer to Skype. Right-click on the caller's Skype ID in the "recent calls" section of the Skype app. Select Block This Person. In the window that appears, click the "report abuse" checkbox before confirming the block.
Blocking, however, is only a temporary solution, because the scammers keep creating new Skype accounts and calling again. It baffles me why Skype has not proactively banned all Skype accounts with the words "SYSTEM NOTICE", "URGENT ONLINE REPAIR", and other variations in the profile name. This seems like an easy thing to do, and given the scale of this scam, they should have done it yesterday. Hello, Mr. Skype? Can you fix this, please?
Here's what I suggest: You can change your Skype privacy settings to prevent future calls from scammers and other unknown parties. Click on Tools Options >> Privacy >> Privacy Settings. Then under Allow Calls From and Allow IMs From, select People in My Contact List Only. Obviously, this not an option for businesses that use Skype to receive inquiries from potential customers, but it will work for most users.
Have you gotten one of these "URGENT ONLINE REPAIR" calls on Skype? Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 14 Jun 2012
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Warning: Skype Urgent Online Repair Scam (Posted: 14 Jun 2012)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved