Warning: Skype Urgent Online Repair Scam

Category: Security , Telephony

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.
Skype Online Repair Scam

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.

  1. Ignore and don't answer them. It takes only one click to hang up on the scammers.
  2. If you do answer, don't follow any instructions you may hear.
  3. 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...

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Most recent comments on "Warning: Skype Urgent Online Repair Scam"

Posted by:

14 Jun 2012

I received a scam text message, 2 days ago, which looked "phishy" enough for me to google it.

This blogspot lists the same message: http://polarverse.blogspot.ca/2012/06/smstest-message-scams-walmart-winner-of.html. I traced the number down to New York.

I also called my phone carrier, and wasn't surprised to find out that they couldn't do much. The only option is to send "stop" . . . (Do Phishers and Scammers smile, when they get such a message? ;-) Are there other remedies?

What do you know about the efficiency of these websites:
http://www.scambusters.org/cellphone.html ?

EDITOR'S NOTE: Not much you can do about SMS spam, except delete and block. I've used 800notes.com to find out who's calling, and it's usually reliable. ScamBusters is run by friends of mine, and is an excellent resource.

Posted by:

14 Jun 2012

I received several of these "fishing expetiditions and just ignored them. I use ITOK which guards me system 24/7 and warns if I go to a site that is fishing/scam/virus/ or any infections at all. I highly recommend this service.

Posted by:

Harold Wexler
14 Jun 2012

Have received several during the last week. I bit on the first one, because I expected a notification from a friend. However, I did realize it was bogus and did not access the website. A close call!!!

Posted by:

Don Turner
14 Jun 2012

I kept getting several of these notifications whenever i was on line gaming. I made the mistake of clicking onto their website but did not activate. Even so my anti-virus(webroot)alerted me to the fact that i had been infected. It took care of the three infections it found.(whew!)

Posted by:

14 Jun 2012

Wouldn't it be nice to be able to write a script which can be autosent to the scam site to fry their system before they could launch their own scumware.
Wishful thinking I know but.....

Posted by:

Al S
15 Jun 2012

I received a similar scam via telephone. First of all REMEMBER MSFT does NOT CALL you or monitors your system. This was the 2nd attempt by the same scammers via Telephone.

They tell you that they are from MSFT and your computer is infected blah, blah blah. I then said are you aware that you called the ATTY GEN office?
That got a quick disconnect. They use various 800 numbers and are not even in the USA.

Posted by:

11 Oct 2012

I have received many of these on my iPhone and iPad Skype accounts. The odd part is they are auto answering and I cannot find a way to change that. There is NO way to block the caller, no right click option and I haven't found a way to stop auto answering. Guess I have to install on a desktop so I can right click and block for my account? In the meantime, I have had to sign out of Skype to stop the calls. I also notice when it answers, it displaying RECORDING. What is being recorded?

Posted by:

24 Oct 2012

Hi Dave,
Great site I've loved it for a while.
I saw this thread a while back, please forgive me the post in an area inactive for a few months. I just think the thought belongs here. Being I had this problem myself I was very interested. The solution turns out to be nothing like posts anywhere allude to. People were getting calls from named ids not phone numbers like System.Repair or many others if they answered it were told their computer was infected and to go to a website..... Turns out it's not a very complex phishing scheme.

So sometime in near history Skype converted everyones callerid and defaulted it to a Euro number +6617480240 or this default setting is the result of us setting some parameter in the skype gui.
I discovered this when a friend said "what is this number you are calling from". He then did a search on the number which raised our suspicions further.

Updating your number in callerid at skype.com is free and should clear this mess up. So far I am spam free.

Why do some get it and not others? I really don't know, it could be where you fit in the proprietary network ie supernodes etc.

I hope this helps people.
Keep up the good work Dave.

Posted by:

12 Feb 2013

Thanks for this - my wife uses Skype and got this scam today, I never use Skype and was clueless to how this happens - I'm going to have her changes the settings.

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