UK Computer Users Warned to Be Wary of Phone Scams

POSTED: DECEMBER 10, 2012

Written by Keith Hautala, UKPR

University of Kentucky computer users are warned to be wary of phone calls purporting to come from technology companies such as Microsoft, offering to "fix" unspecified computer problems, or warning them that their computers have been "misconfigured" or that they have unwittingly downloaded malicious software.

These are common ploys used by identity thieves to obtain passwords and other sensitive information, or to sell users unnecessary and bogus "protection," warns Michael Carr, the university's chief information security officer.

"These types of scams are unfortunately on the rise, and we expect to see more of them in the period surrounding the holiday season," Carr said. "It's important for the university community to be aware of this and regard with suspicion anyone who calls and asks for confidential information, such as a Social Security number or computer password."

The Federal Trade Commission in October announced that it was cracking down on such scams. The FTC's news release may be viewed online at www.ftc.gov/opa/2012/10/pecon.shtm. Microsoft has issued its own warning as well, at www.microsoft.com/security/online-privacy/msname.aspx.

Carr says that genuine technical service professionals are not in the habit of making unsolicited phone calls to users, and that nobody should ever be asked to reveal their UK computer password by anyone. Rather than give out personal information over the phone to a stranger, Carr recommends users ask some questions of their own.

"Find out who is doing the asking," Carr said. "Ask for a name, phone number, and e-mail address. If they refuse to provide contact information, it's safe to hang up the phone."

859-218-HELP (859-218-4357) 218help@uky.edu