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Scammers Making Things Harder For Themselves

, , , , , | Legal | November 23, 2021

Scammers have thought up a new scheme while more and more people start working from home during the height of the current health crisis. They call people at home pretending to call from their companies’ tech support to fish for data.

I’m sitting in my home office working when my private phone line rings. I route it to my headset and answer without looking at the caller ID.

Me: “Hello?”

Scammer: “This is tech support. We’ve been compromised! Please boot up your station and follow my instructions.”

He has a heavy accent, but we hire diversely, so having an accent isn’t immediately alarming. But he didn’t say the name of our company or his own name and I don’t recognize the voice at all.

Me: “What’s your name, please?”

Scammer: “I’m [Name I’ve never heard before]. This is urgent! I’m from tech support! Get into—”

Me: *Interrupting* “No, you’re not from my company’s tech support.”

Scammer: “I assure you, miss! I am from your tech support! You’ll need t—”

Me: *Interrupting again* “No! I know for a fact you’re not! I’m our tech recruiter. We have currently exactly twelve internal tech supporters working for us and I have personally recruited every single one of them! You are none of my recruits. You don’t work for our company. Get lost.”

Scammer: *Click*

If they’d reached one of our less tech-savvy employees who had just been set up for home office, they might even have succeeded. Since we’d just gotten a lot of people into the home office, there were indeed situations where tech support had called them to smooth out bumps, so this might have slipped past one or the other, especially if they were waiting for a call back from our real tech support anyway. The employees couldn’t do much since we had pretty sharp security systems in place, so it was unlikely that the scammers could log into our workstations remotely even if they got passwords. But still, they might have gotten sensitive information concerning our clients that way, and in the end, no system is foolproof.

I immediately got to work on a new process. After running it by our head of human resources, who agreed to it, I gave all our employees exact details they now had to request for verification.

Within the day, I had all divisions answering and agreeing to the new arrangement. Our data is very sensitive and data protection is taken seriously, so there’s no one complaining. We’re well used to double- or even triple-factor logins and strenuous verification processes anyway. 

No, you won’t get anything from us, scammers! Not on my watch.

Once In Tech Support Always In Tech Support

, , , | Right | November 19, 2021

For seventeen years, starting in the mid-1980s, I worked in adult education. Among other things, I taught people how to use computers.

One evening, I received a phone call at home.

Me: “[My Name] talking.”

Caller: “Yeah, hi. I don’t think you remember me, but I took one of your classes a year and a half ago. My uncle recently bought a computer and he has a problem.”

Me: “I’m sorry, but I can’t help you there. I suggest your uncle contact the place where he bought the computer, or if it is a software problem, the company making that software.”

I had already learned that if you help someone with a computer problem, anything going wrong with that computer from then on would most likely be considered your problem. On top of that, I could not see how the caller thought it was appropriate to call me in a situation like that.

This was the exact moment I decided to get an unlisted phone number.

Does Nobody Read The Freakin’ Memos?!

, , , , | Working | November 18, 2021

I work in IT support for a company with about 200 employees. We’ve recently instituted a ticketing system for helpdesk requests, and management has made it clear that EVERYONE is to use this instead of dropping by the IT department and asking for help. Some habits are hard to break, though.

I’m on the phone helping a remote employee when [Coworker] shows up at my office door.

Coworker: “Hey, are you busy? I need help with my email.”

Me: “Sorry, I’m helping someone else right now. Just open a ticket, and if I’m not available, someone else will help you.”

Coworker: *Looking frustrated* “Well, I wish there was some way to know if you’re on the phone already!”

You walked all the way across the building when you could have picked up the phone and dialed my number?

This Customer Is One Special Character

, , | Right | November 6, 2021

I was reaching the end of a password troubleshooting phone call.

Me: “And your password must contain at least one special character, like an exclamation mark or dollar sign.”

Caller: “It does contain a special character!”

Me: “Which one?”

Caller: “The down-and-back arrow.”

Me: *Confused pause* “The what?”

Caller: “The down-and-back arrow! It’s on the right side, above Shift.”

Me: “That’s the Enter ke— Uh… Sorry, our system doesn’t recognize that as a special character. Can you pick a different one?”

You Are Your Own Worst Enemy

, , , | Right | November 3, 2021

Like most call centers, my work tools require us to identify a person before we can do anything specific. Without a customer file in front of us, we can only access VERY general information such as “signs your computer has a bug” or “reset keys for fifteen varieties of smart devices”. Without that file, we have no history, no previous notes, not even a hint that they have troubleshot with us before.

With this in mind, we only ask for identifiers if nothing comes up when the call comes in. It normally takes the system about five seconds to load the data.

Me: “Good morning. This is [My Name]; I’ll be your technical advisor. And who am I speaking with this morning?”

The basic form crops up… and everything is blank. Even the phone number is set to “anonymous” so I can’t use that.

Customer: “Morning. I’m [Customer].”

Me: “Wonderful. Do you mind if I grab your email to make sure all my notes get properly logged?”

Customer: “No, you don’t need that. I just need to ask some things.”

Me: “Sure thing, then. Just so you know, without it, I will only have general information, nothing specific.”

Customer: “Sure, fine. Okay.”

The customer then launches into a technical issue that starts out very straightforward. I load up what I can to advise them and start asking questions to narrow it down. When did it start, did it happen all at once or in stages, have they turned it on and off again yet? In going through the routine steps, the customer seems to snap.

Customer: “I’ve already done all that! Are you stupid? Look at the notes and you can see all of that already!”

There is a tiny pause as I am savouring the words I am about to say.

Me: “I do beg your pardon, [Customer], but I don’t have your notes in front of me. That is why I asked for an email and clarified that I’d only have general information without it.”

Dead silence.

Me: *In my sweetest customer service voice* “Would you like to give it to me now so I can look it up?”

The customer meekly gave me the email. Funny how I was able to help him much better with some specifics. I really shouldn’t have enjoyed that moment as much as I did, but boy, was it satisfying to hear someone face that they were the instrument of their own torment.