Something fishy?
Report fraud to us between 09.00 and 17.00 Monday to Friday
09 Nov 2017
Fake Gmail and Hotmail help centres help themselves

Users of email services like Hotmail or Gmail who encounter a problem with their software should make sure that they contact the right help centre. Scammers are lurking online, ready to prey on you.

Anyone who faces a problem with their email programme has several options. One of them is typing in the name of the programme in Google, combined with keywords like help centre, help desk or technical support. But the results of these searches are not always reliable.

No matter which search term you use, there will always be at least one fake help centre popping up. Its objective: to get access to your computer and siphon off money. It’s a method that is very similar to that of the fake Microsoft tech support (Microsoft phone scams).

Getting to your money
The name of the help centre may often change but it is invariably Dutch. People calling the number will get an English-speaking person on the line. This person claims they can solve your problems. All you need to do is install a tool enabling the help centre to access your PC remotely. Often, this programme is TeamViewer.

After your problems are resolved, the ‘help centre’ will ask you to log in to your internet banking. This is to pay for the costs of the service. The amount is often a few dozen euro. What victims often fail to notice is that the ‘technical support specialist’ will be withdrawing additional, much larger sums of money from your account at the same time.

Our advice
Be aware that not all Google search results will lead you to reliable companies. The following examples should set off the alarm bells:

  • Does a tech support person speak English when your looking for a Dutch-speaking help centre? Don’t hesitate to call another help centre.
  • Don’t log in to your online banking account when someone has taken remote control of your computer (for example, with TeamViewer).
  • Does the “technical support specialist” ask you to pay via a money transfer office like Western Union? Or do you get the request to pay money in the form of gift cards? Then it’s wrong. Disconnect, get your computer offline and call your bank.

Photo © Richard.Asia/Flickr.comCC BY-NC-SA 2.0