(This article was originally published in Feb 2019 - we are re-publishing it after recent issues encountered by an iTandCoffee client, as a warning to others.)
You may have already read one or more of the articles we published about email 'sending' issues suffered by several iTandCoffee clients in the first week of February 2019.
A common theme for each of these clients was that they used Google to find a phone number for Technical Support. Two of them found a number for Bigpond Technical Support, and the other for Microsoft Technical Support.
The question is: Did they really call Bigpond and Microsoft, or did they get a business that pretends to offer this support?
One of the clients did get caught out and call a fake 'Bigpond Support' number.
The image above shows the results page I got when I Googled 'bigpond technical support' and 'microsoft technical support'.
You will see that the 'bigpond technical support' results include two that specifically mention Bigpond email Support and Bigpond Support and offer toll-free numbers in the search results screen - making it easy for you to quickly call the provided number to get 'support' with your Bigpond email!
Other results talk about 'Telstra Media' and 'Technical Support - Telstra Media' - which do not stand out as being related to Bigpond.
One of the clients I saw this week said she called a 'Bigpond' 1300 number that she found on Google. She only did this after visiting the Telstra shop. They could not solve her email issue and told her she would have to call Bigpond for support.
She had understood, on the basis of this advice from the Telstra shop, that Bigpond was something separate to Telstra.
Even though she was having a problem with sending emails from her iPhone, the 'Bigpond Technical Support' person who took her call to the 1300 number asked her to get on her Mac and to download and install some 'remote support' software. When she told me this, alarm bells went off straight away.
Using this 'remote support' software, that person then showed the client some log files that 'proved' that she had been hacked and that she needed more comprehensive help from this support service. Of course, this would cost her around $400 and she would have to give them her credit card details.
Luckily she terminated the call at this point and contacted iTandCoffee.
However, based on the call, she was very stressed that she might have some sort of virus or have been hacked. At the very least, she had allowed someone onto her computer and was not sure if they could still access it.
Her iPhone did have an issue that we were able to fix - an issue that was related to its setup, not to any hacking or virus. (Here is the article on how we solved her problem: My Bigpond emails won't send from my iPhone due to a 'relaying' error.)
Her Mac was not related to this problem - and she has since worked with iTandCoffee to remove the remote support software that was installed, and to ensured that there was nothing 'left behind' by the fake 'Bigpond Support'.
One of the other clients this week Googled 'microsoft technical support' to get a contact number for Microsoft, to get assistance with a problem sending email from Outlook on Windows 10.
The results that I got for this search (shown in the image above) at least seem to give you legitimate microsoft.com results - so I hope he did actually get a legitimate support team at Microsoft.
However, once again, the person on the other end of the phone was unable to assist this client without a payment of several hundred dollars. Once again, the client was savvy enough not to provide any credit card details over the phone and contacted iTandCoffee instead.
Be alert for Google results that pretend to be the website you are looking for
I can quote so many case studies of people who have come to iTandCoffee after falling for the 'fake technical support' scam, simply because they Googled to look for support on something, then called a number that purported to offer support.
Several of them thought they were talking to Apple's Technical Support team - but were not.
In many cases, they paid for subscriptions to a service that they thought was from Apple, Telstra, Microsoft or some other well-known business, when they had actually paid this money to some other business. It can then be difficult to 'unsubscribe' from payments to whatever service they have signed up for.
Make sure that, when you Google to look for contact details for some business, that you are absolutely sure that you have the correct business before you call the number. This can be determined by looking at the website address associated with the result. Here are some examples:
Examples of sites pretending to be something they aren't ...
For Bigpond, if you see something like
You may see something like the below example when Googling for Apple or Mac Support - trying to look like the offical Apple Customer Care number. Don't call this one either!
1800-875-318 Australia Apple Customer Care Number
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