10 Best Things To Tell “Computer Support”

The Computer Support Scam has been around for a while now – here in NZ it comes and goes in waves, but at my place, we’ve had a couple calls in the last few weeks so it looks like we’re back on their call lists.If you don’t know it, a helpful person with a non-local accent cold calls you, says that your computer might have a virus, and offers to walk you through the steps to fix it.

ZOETERMEER-CALLCENTERI thought it might be useful to compile a list of suggestions about how to respond, if and when you get one of these calls.

  1. Just hang up
    This is your go-to baseline response, no doubt. It feels good: there’s a certain satisfaction to just clicking off that voice and forgetting about it. Like you’re on Wall Street in the ’00s and you have much more important things to do, like tanking the economy. No nonsense! But, after the first few times the joy recedes on this. It becomes more like swatting a fly: there’s always another one drifting in the window. And there’s no story to it, no fun little narrative. It’s just SWAT and done. There’s no shame in looking further down the list.
  2. Tell them calmly what you think of what they are doing
    I did this for a while. I’d just clearly and calmly say how disgusting I think their work is, and I hoped their conscience bothered them. It was satisfying for a bit but they’d always get really angry and curse me out before hanging up. So I go for more entertaining options now.
  3. Question them like a sympathetic TV Interviewer
    “Why are you doing this? What has gone wrong in your life to lead you to this situation?” Adopt a gentle tone, and smile as you speak. “I’m just trying to understand. Don’t you see the harm you are causing?” I’ve never managed to get one of the callers to open up to me – they tend to get really mad and hang up on me, in fact – but it’s kinda fun. I like to pretend I’m reporting for Campbell Live.
  4. Hand over to the Computer Person
    You need to have an appropriate computer person in your house for this to work. I have a two-year-old daughter, who is perfect; she was equally good when she was a screaming three-month-old. Tell them “Hang on, I’ll just hand you over to the computer person in our house” and give the phone to (or put it by) your designated helper. Hours of fun! (NB: don’t say “our computer expert” when you hand it over, because the scammers don’t want to talk to anyone who actually knows about computers!)
  5. Pretend you are your parents
    If you are like me, you will often provide tech support to your parents. Channel those experiences here. Sound really panicked by the scammer’s warnings, and be grateful for their help, then proceed to do everything they tell you. But do it as ineptly as you can. Apologise profusely. Ask questions like “A green wiggly thing has come up on the screen, what does that mean? How do I make it go away?” and “Oh, the little pointy arrow has disappeared! Where did it go?”
  6. Act like you’re playing along with a practical joke
    “Ha ha! This is you, isn’t it Brad? Come on dude! Ha ha! All right, “ma’am” I’ll click on the Start button! Ha ha, Brad! You douche! Come on, admit it, I know it’s you! What’s gonna happen when I click on this, a giant picture of a naked dude is gonna pop up isn’t it? Ha!”
  7. Cry
    “I’m sorry… *sob*… I just think my relationship is over, it’s really hard to concentrate. I really, really love her, you know? *sob*”
  8. Put the phone next to you and carry on
    This is my current go-to option, because it’s so easy and gentle. It’s like the humane method of ending a phone call. You just stop talking, put the phone near you, and hum to yourself while carrying on whatever you were doing. You’ll hear their little voice calling out, “hello? hello? You can reply if you want: “Yes!” or “Just a second!” Eventually they’ll end the call themselves. Ah, so simple.
  9. Preach at them
    “Has anyone ever told you about how LSD might change your life/the benefits of Veganism/the Church of Satan?”
  10. Recite the deranged Sorority Girl Email at them
    Give them the full Michael Shannon

Feel free to print out this list and keep it by your phone. And of course, we at The Ruminator welcome any additional suggestions you might have about how to respond to your next Computer Support call!

 

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12 Comments

  1. Nice! My favourites are a) similar to pretending I’m my parents – I pretend I’m doing it and get all upset when my screen goes black/the computer freezes/ etc and get angry with the caller who has obviously “broken my computer”. I can keep this up for quite a while and can rant over the top of their “look Madam, there’s nothing wrong with your computer, just do what I say” which gets more and more bullying until I hang up.
    b). I tell them I know who they are, cos I saw them on TV on a programme about scams, and they are calling from Calcutta, and the police are tracing this call and that’s it. They hang up SO FAST! Come to think of it, I haven’t had a call since the week after that Fair Go programme aired and I used this twice… Coincidence probably…

  2. I suggest combining #1 with quietly saying “I run Linux”, before gently putting the phone down. They will never call you again.

    This works even if you don’t run Linux, because seriously how would they know otherwise?

  3. 1] Have a virtual computer or spare machine laying around for them to “hack”. Requires some prep unless you’re quick.
    2] Go along with their scam, give them access to the machine. But before they connect, make sure tub girl, meatspin or goatse is on the screen.
    3] Laugh maniacally.

  4. Marvellous suggestions all!

    Except Steve’s, because I have spent years successfully dodging tubgirl & goatse and have no intention of changing that any time soon 🙂

  5. Very nice Morgan,

    My personal favourite, as an ex-contact centre worker (though never a telemarketer), is the anti-telemarketer script. It takes some skill to actually pull it off as you have to be able to control the conversation – but when it works it’s fantastic. I’m sure with a bit of modification it could be adapted for these types of calls (luckily our number is unlisted and we’ve never gotten one ourselves).

    http://egbg.home.xs4all.nl/counterscript.html

    Scott

  6. I can’t believe you people still have land lines. Boom. Problem solved.

  7. Landlines are still good – cheaper than cellphones in most cases and it leaves you in control of where you are contactable. I don’t always want to be contactable while I’m on the bus / walking etc. Some agencies you only want to have your land line because it means you get to define the terms of the contact.

  8. I’ve had one call my cell phone. Also had an American Green card lottery automated call to my cell.

  9. Love the telemarketer counter script! I NEVER answer their “how has your day been?” even if it’s a company I deal with, but just respond with a question to them such as “is this about my account/query etc?” Or use their pause (so I can tell them about my day) to say “no thank you, goodbye” and hang up. So much fun to be had with the counter script though!

  10. You have reminded me of this series of blog entries:

    http://revk.www.me.uk/2010/07/something-has-to-be-done.html

    The story is in the comments and the next few blog entries – a fella that runs an ISP in the UK got mad at illegal telemarketers and set up a block of VOIP numbers backed by a recorded message designed to keep live operators on the line.

  11. One time, my wife got one of these calls while I was doing some construction work at the house, so I had my circular saw, power drill and several hand tools out in the bed of my truck. My wife, knowing how much I enjoy messing with the Indian Microsoft scammers, handed me the phone. As soon as they informed me that my computer was corrupted and infected with viruses, I FREAKED OUT and said “WHAT?! IT’S INFECTED WITH VIRUSES?!?! HOLD ON!!!!! Then I placed the phone on the tail gate of my truck, frantically slammed a few pieces of scrap wood into a pile and proceeded to go all ape $hit on them with a hammer, occasionally interjecting the screech of the circular saw and winding of the power drill while screaming “I’LL SHOW YOU, YOU FU#KING VIRUSES!!! TAKE THAT!!! GET OUT!!! GET OUT!!!!”. After 30 seconds of beating the $hit out of a pile of scrap wood and screaming like a maniac, I got back on the phone, panting and out-of-breath, and said “it’s OK, I got ’em….I got ’em”.

    Good times.

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