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New Dell Tech Support Scams Have Customers Worried Company Was Hacked (onthewire.io) 76

Trailrunner7 writes: A new twist on the fake tech support scam has arisen that has victims wondering whether Dell has been hacked.There has been a recent rash of calls to Dell customers in which the caller says he is from Dell itself and is able to identify the victim's PC by model number and provide details of previous warranty and support interactions with the company.

These are details that, it would seem, only Dell or perhaps its contractors would know. One person who was contacted by the scammers wrote a detailed description of the call, and said the caller had personal details that could not have been found online. Dell officials say they're looking into it.

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New Dell Tech Support Scams Have Customers Worried Company Was Hacked

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  • by Not-a-Neg ( 743469 ) * on Friday January 08, 2016 @03:46PM (#51264057)

    Service Tags are rather short, if you brute force guessed existing service tags would it give enough personal info (first/last name) to then do a phone directory look-up to get enough info to know your number, name, service tag, etc...?

    • by swb ( 14022 )

      This was my thought. I've always wondered if there was a kind of algorithm or heuristic to service tags or if they are just kind of serially generated.

      It probably wouldn't do this scam a bunch of good to use, say, tags for really obsolete models (ie, something 10+ years old, which the owner may not even still own) or for some of the non-PC equipment that Dell has sold over the years that has had otherwise similar looking service tags applied to it.

      If you COULD sort out what models went with what tag ranges

    • by vux984 ( 928602 ) on Friday January 08, 2016 @04:28PM (#51264417)

      Service Tags are rather short, if you brute force guessed existing service tags would it give enough personal info (first/last name) to then do a phone directory look-up to get enough info to know your number, name, service tag, etc...?

      Brute force guessing valid tags is trivial: Here's one i made up by changing some digits around from one I had: FCKBRK1

      Other than the country in which it was, and when it was shipped, and when the warranty ended, I'm not seeing anything useful for identifying who owns it.

      I'm expecting dell itself was breached, or one of its support contractors.

      • I'm expecting dell itself was breached, or one of its support contractors.

        I wouldn't be surprised if it were a contracted help desk monkey who harvested the info off his little cubicle machine and sold the list. That, or a 'partner' company bought the list legitimately for marketing purposes, and someone working for (or formerly working for) that 'partner' peeled off a copy of the DB for his own uses.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        FCKBRK1

        "Fuck brick 1," are you sure that isn't the service tag on your Fleshlight?

  • by argStyopa ( 232550 ) on Friday January 08, 2016 @03:47PM (#51264067) Journal

    More than a decade ago, I'd ordered my small business's desktops from Dell. Might have been a couple of times, actually.

    A few years later, I was looking up drivers or somesuch, and noticed that oddly, the login screen for my Dell account had me misidentified as "Ben".

    (My name is nothing like Ben.)

    Then I saw a WAVE of spam, as well as dead-tree mail spam, all addressed to "dear Ben".
    Dell INSISTS that they didn't sell my name to spammers.
    Despite complaining to Dell, last time I checked it still calls me Ben, and I continue to get spam occasionally addressed to Ben.

    Seems pretty clear to me.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 08, 2016 @03:48PM (#51264075)
    Anyone notice that that the link is to a forum post from SIX MONTHS ago? And here's a post in Dell's forum about the problem in 2014 -- so, *18* months ago.

    http://en.community.dell.com/s... [dell.com]

    Is Dell unable to address this problem -- so they're just hoping it goes away?
  • You can get a great deal of information from the "service tag" on your Dell equipment. Every piece of Dell equipment has one, and you can get the entire service history through the Dell website. This is very useful for service types, both inside and outside Dell. But it sounds like some people are abusing that, and I fear that will cause Dell to shut down or limit access to that service. :-(

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by gstoddart ( 321705 )

      Yeah, with my service tag and NO other authorization Dell gave me my Express Service code.

      From there it was a captcha away from being able to log into the warranty page, which I didn't bother doing.

      This tells me there is probably VERY little authentication around something which is a relatively short and formulaic looking identifier.

      If you need no real authentication and a captcha to get this information, then this service should be shut down. Because it basically would suggest they'll provide a tremendous

  • Bah ... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Friday January 08, 2016 @03:54PM (#51264133) Homepage

    It's the same bloody call center they use for support in the first place.

    If they have information that specific either Dell has been hacked, or these guys for the information directly from Dell for a supposedly legitimate purpose.

    When will people get it through their heads: incoming phone calls are inherently not trustworthy because the lobbyists for telemarketing companies have ensured caller ID spoofing is legal.

    If someone calls you claiming to be from an entity you have a relationship with, tell them you'll only talk to them if you can call them on a number you can get from the official company web page.

    I no longer give callers the benefit of being polite to them; I start out fairly hostile and either climb down or rapidly escalate from there. Because 90% or more of the incoming calls I've received in the last few years are fraudulent.

    Between "the Microsoft support", or the "Air Duct cleaning" assholes, or that twat from cardholder services who wants to get me a lower rate ... it's all lies.

    Best thing I ever did was get a Panasonic cordless phone which will drop all calls from "Unknown", "Unavailable", and "Private Caller". And for the rest, well, caller ID is a lie anyway, so I don't trust that.

    Hell, a few times I've phoned myself to try to scam myself.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      I fixed the problems you are having by not answering the phone. When we still had a landline (got rid of it two years ago) all of the calls were from either the entities you mention or charities or political campaigns. We realized there was absolutely no reason to answer the phone. Then we realized there was no reason to HAVE the phone. I rarely - once or twice a month - get a spam call on my cell. But I don't answer unknown callers very often on the cell anyway. I recently had some repair work being done o
    • Best thing I ever did was get a Panasonic cordless phone which will drop all calls from "Unknown", "Unavailable", and "Private Caller".

      You looked at all your life's accomplishments and that was the best thing?

      • Well, it was that or touching Suzy Lou's boob in third grade ... but in the end I had to go with the phone thing. ;-)

        I'm glad to see that the level of smart-ass around here in unchanged, though. I was beginning to think Slashdot had lost its sense of humor.

    • I feel bad for the 10% of callers that are not scams:

      Me: He this is [my name]
      Operator: Hello I am Sally, is this the husband of [my wife]?
      Me: Maybe
      Operator: Well you are listed as her emergency contact and I am calling about her doctor's appointment tommorrow
      Me: OK
      Operator: Is there a different number we can call her at?
      Me: Let me take a message for you

      Is it sad, but only correct way to talk to unknown numbers is: fuck you, authenticate

    • by nigelo ( 30096 )

      http://www.consumerreports.org... [consumerreports.org]

      I use nomorobo with my Comcast service, and only the postman rings twice.

      (the phone rings once if it's from a known robo, and that's it, otherwise you get to service the call)

    • by PRMan ( 959735 )
      I switched to Ooma and turned on the Community Blacklist. I never get those calls anymore.
  • by JoeyRox ( 2711699 ) on Friday January 08, 2016 @03:57PM (#51264161)
    He has an Indian accent, his name is "Bob", he's far more courteous than any other support rep you've worked with, and his solution to every problem you throw at him is to perform a complete reinstall of your Windows installation.
    • and his solution to every problem you throw at him is to perform a complete reinstall of your Windows installation.

      Funny, I've met IT staff like that. Only they weren't courteous.

      I've also had the misfortune of dealing with outsourced IBM helpdesk people. They too seem to have no troubleshooting skills and suggest a complete reinstall.

      Your joke would be much funnier if there weren't already massive amounts of people whose suggestion for most problems is a complete reinstall.

      Rebooting and then reinstalling

  • I'm willing to bet one of their warranty providers has been compromised. I know they farm out a lot of stuff to the likes of Unisys (and that's the better ProSupport) and likely less reputable companies. It wouldn't surprise me if Warranties-4-Less out of India/Mexico had a breach.
  • by Sir_Eptishous ( 873977 ) on Friday January 08, 2016 @04:17PM (#51264331) Homepage
    Please do the needful.
  • The second link to the forum is a post from July.... was this just noticed now?

    Posted by billroberts10 on 14 Jul 2015 4:11 PM

    Anyway, the advice I always give my friends and family is to never accept anything offered to you. If you get a call and it seems legit, get a phone number and tell them you will call them back, then try to look up that number.

    If a pop-up comes up asking you to download anything, hit Alt+F4

  • Dell contracts with local fix-it guys to handle support calls. They have enough information to fix the issue and bill Dell. Most of them are your typical small business people, very decent professionals. All it takes is a few bad ones to leak information about a small number of customers. It might not even be deliberate, they might have thrown carbon copies in dumpsters or they might have had employees gone bad and a few of them might have been seduced by the Dark side of the Force.

    Having said that, Dell

  • I asked if dell made a mfc scan/print/fax that could print on discs.

    Afaik dell doesn't sell printers. Or atleast dells sales depot couldn't find one.

    I also asked Canon, Epson & Brother who
    quickly replied with a list of models.
    I even got a message back from kodak that they no longer made consumer inkjet printers.

    But dell emailed back that I had to call and talk to a Indian that could barely speak english....I gave up after 10 minutes trying to explain I wanted a printer not a CD burner.

  • Although the scammers steal credit cards and drain bank accounts, Dell customers still reported the experience as "an improvement" over previous interactions with Dell technical support.

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