Users of Dell computers are questioning whether the company has been hacked after claiming that they have been targeted in scam phone calls from fraudsters who, they say, could only have obtained information from Dell.
Online message board complaints indicate that a campaign of scam IT support calls targeting Dell customers has been ongoing for six months or more. Bloggers have even suggested that Dell is aware that it has been hacked.
“Scammers pretending to be from Dell computers phoned me in November – but these scammers knew things about me. They identified the model number for both my Dell computers, and knew every problem that I’d ever called Dell about. None of this information was ever posted online, so it’s not available anywhere except Dell’s own customer service records,” wrote one blogger.
He continued: “I called the (real) Dell, and spoke to a customer support representative named Mark, who tried to explain how the scammers knew my account history. ‘Dell has detected hackers,’ he said. ‘They’re hacking our website’,” one blogger wrote.
The blogger also conjectured that the information may, instead, have been taken from the company via corrupt staff that Dell had hired. “One thing that’s absolutely certain is that I’m not the only person who’s being scammed. Dell’s own support forum shows many more customers are complaining about the same phone scam,” the blogger added.
Indeed, online commentators and Dell’s own support forums indicate that the scam has been running since at least May 2015 – and responses from Dell’s own customer service staff suggest that Dell is aware of the scam.
One user, posting on Dell’s own support forums in early June, suggested that the attackers had taken remote control of his father’s PC following a “support” call.
“They called my parent’s house from number 800-425-0090. They knew his model, his name, and account from Dell. They scared him into thinking his computer has viruses at which point they used Dell’s ‘assistance program’ to take control of the PC…
“When my father realised [that] they were trying to scare him, he asked for them to leave a notepad message saying what was wrong with the PC… This is definitely a scam and, furthermore, they have information only Dell would have and used Dell’s program to gain access,” he wrote.
In response, Dell support staff admitted that there was a problem, but did not admit that Dell had been hacked or that the information had leaked from Dell:
“Unfortunately, there are unscrupulous third-party entities posing as Dell or Microsoft representatives trying to obtain personal credit card information from Dell customers. Please be assured we take these reports very seriously. DO NOT give them any personal information as they are not associated with Dell,” she wrote.
Another user, posting on a Dell forum in June, wrote: “I just got a call on my cell phone from someone with a foreign accent who knew my name and said he was from Dell, and that over the past few weeks they have been getting reports from my Dell computer that there is a problem. Was Dell hacked and customer information stolen?
“There is no other way the person would have my name, cell phone number and know I had a Dell computer if it didn’t come from your company. What are you doing about that? It doesn’t seem that you are protecting your customers’ identities and that someone hacked into your system and stole our information. This is pretty scary, especially since you claim to be able to protect our PCs but if you can’t even seem to protect our info on your servers how can we ever trust this company again?”
Dell support staff claimed, in response, that such reports were “under investigation”.
User Bill Roberts, also writing on Dell’s own support forum, also suggested that the scam call that he had experienced suggested inside information. “I got a call today from ‘tech support’ stating that my laptop downloaded something suspicious and was sending Dell some alarming messages. The ‘tech’ identified my laptop by referencing a technical issue that I opened with directly with Dell about six months to a year ago.”
Computing has asked Dell for comment and will update the story accordingly when they provide an official response.