Dell famously increased its outsourcing program when it was riding high at the top of the PC market. The company’s fortunes have changed over the years, as it’s now a privately held firm once again, but it still outsources most tech support to call centers in India. Now, customers are reporting suspicious phone calls that appear to be from Dell employees in India, but these callers attempt to extort money to fix computer issues. It’s starting to look like someone has gained access to Dell’s support data, or perhaps this is an inside job.
Cold call computer support scams are nothing new, but the scammers in this case know things that only Dell should know. Luckily, one potential victim of this scam knew what was what was happening and made notes on how the scammers attempted to gain control of his system.
It starts with an unexpected phone call. In the cold call variety of this scam, the attackers often claim to be from Microsoft. With most PCs running Windows, it’s a safe bet they’ll at least get a foot in the door. The Dell scammers, however, have access to the customer’s name, address, phone number, and importantly, the Dell service tag. The service tag is a code that customers use to get faster support when calling Dell. It brings up system info and support history — apparently, Dell’s support centers allow anyone to access any service tag to look up information.
There are a few threads in the Dell forums detailing these calls (as well as some other sites), which appear to be more in-depth than the usual tech support scams. They all include the perpetrators using personal information from Dell to sound legitimate. Dell has yet to offer an explanation for how so much personal data is available to the scammers. Hacks usually result in large volumes of data spilling out across the web, but this appears to be much more focused, leading many to suggest that Dell workers themselves are behind the calls.
We’ve reached out to Dell and have been told the company is actively investigating the reports. Company reps request anyone who is a victim of this scam to report it to Dell. For the time being, be wary of any unexpected phone calls from “Dell.