TurboTax can peek at your page

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pmikep

Well-known member
Dec 26, 2020
57
8
I'm helping an elderly lady who, against my better advice, is trying to file her tax returns online.

She decided to try TurboTax first.

When it wouldn't do what she wanted (she just wants to fill in the govt forms and file electronically), she called TT Customer Service.

The first thing that Customer Service did was to send her a "Friend" Invitation so that they could remote into her computer. (They asked for her phone number, which she has associated with her account, and they found her on the Internet that way.)

Fortunately, she listened to me this time and said, "No."

(It would have been interesting, tho, to see if remoting worked. 'Cause I have removed RDP (and a bunch of other stuff) from her Win7 through the use of NTLite.)
 

Barry Wallis

Magician in Training
...

(It would have been interesting, tho, to see if remoting worked. 'Cause I have removed RDP (and a bunch of other stuff) from her Win7 through the use of NTLite.)
They probably would use an enterprise solution where they send her a small executable that she runs, it grants permission for them to access her machine and then calls home so they can connect to her.
 

pmikep

Well-known member
Dec 26, 2020
57
8
Yikes! We never got that far. But even if I didn't know about TNO, I wouldn't be running a "small" executable from the govt/Turbo Tax. (At best, if I absolutely had to (and the world seems to be coming to that), then I would run a TAILS live Linux on a machine without hard drives. It would be interesting to see if they offer executables for Linux based browsers. )
 

drwtsn32

Active member
Sep 19, 2020
28
10
I've heard numerous stories of people looking up tech support for various entities (ebay, Amazon, etc) and getting some shady number that connects you to scammers. Wonder if that's what happened here....
 

pmikep

Well-known member
Dec 26, 2020
57
8
No, we were talking on the phone to Customer Service. So it was legit in that sense. (Although I have to imagine that these tax preparer services are "High Value" Targets. It was an https connection. Still, I wonder about Man-in-the-middle, Man-at-the-end, etc.)
 

PHolder

Well-known member
Sep 16, 2020
550
2
268
Ontario, Canada
No, we were talking on the phone to Customer Service.
If you're not careful, and you get a mal 800 number, they will pretend to be the company's tech support, while they work an angle on you to get into your system to hold you for ransom. So saying they were on the phone talking doesn't mean anything in that sense.
 

Barry Wallis

Magician in Training
If you're not careful, and you get a mal 800 number, they will pretend to be the company's tech support, while they work an angle on you to get into your system to hold you for ransom. So saying they were on the phone talking doesn't mean anything in that sense.
The OP mentioned that his friend(?) initiated the call to TurboTax. Assuming she used the number provided by the software, she should be fine.
 

PHolder

Well-known member
Sep 16, 2020
550
2
268
Ontario, Canada
initiated the call to TurboTax
Sure, if they got it from the software. But the bad guys will buy nearby mis-dials also. And if you Google for the number, you're more likely t o get a bad one than a good one unless you're very careful... so I wanted to make sure people are extra cautious.

Really, it would be best for software support if they designed the support process such that the company would call you. You would ask for help in the software, and give your phone number, and it would show a confirmation code on screen which the agent would confirm (whether you call them or they call you.)
 

Barry Wallis

Magician in Training
Sure, if they got it from the software. But the bad guys will buy nearby mis-dials also. And if you Google for the number, you're more likely t o get a bad one than a good one unless you're very careful... so I wanted to make sure people are extra cautious.

Really, it would be best for software support if they designed the support process such that the company would call you. You would ask for help in the software, and give your phone number, and it would show a confirmation code on screen which the agent would confirm (whether you call them or they call you.)
That's similar to the way Google Fi lets me contact them for phone issues.
 

Intuit

Active member
Dec 27, 2020
34
7
Like many corporations, I got the impression that they contracted third party service(s) for customer support. This person's home was kind of out in the boonies. No cellular data service, no broadband service... and quite naturally dialup wasn't really a viable option; even if available. The TurboTax customer called the Geeks/Nerds onsite to help him. Several years ago, I was that Geek/Nerd tech. Product documentation and customer service were both claiming that the product would support doing Federal taxes with no internet connection except, for reasons I don't quite recall at the moment, it wouldn't. With only a few minutes of exposure to the issue, it seemed that I knew more about the product than their customer support team.

In other examples where I had to install their product on an O/S that I setup... which is always the PROPER way... that is, the user is NOT operating from an Administratively privileged account, their software just couldn't handle it. Diving in further, it became apparent that they were still using antiquated coding practices from more than a decade ago. (like Windows Millenium/98/95... not even NT) Even if I changed the install locations using custom setup options, Symbolic Links and/or used ProcMon in conjuction with SubInACL to grant the user/program access to all file and registry resources, the program would still demand privileges it wasn't using and didn't need. Setting compatibility modes didn't help. Like 99% of the software out there, it didn't install drivers or service(s).

I *HATE* programs like theirs with a passion... rendering even basic security practice useless; asking for full control of the system just to launch even if it wasn't doing a self-update. Last thing you want, is to train a user to routinely enter elevated credentials where doing that should be a rarity. In an Enterprise environment we ran into similar issues with their products and I HATED them there too. Just to keep from being bothered my coworkers would always elevate users to local admin. 🙄 In that situation and fortuantely, I only had to elevate program privilege upon a self-update. But again, it demanded privileges it didn't need because I had already granted the user access to the specific file and registry resources that the program wanted to modify.

It wouldn't surprise me at all if their software is wildly exploitable.

BTW, the handle is of no relation. Intuition was a strong ally growing up... no glasses and not being able to see the chalk board (even sitting in the front row), or read facial expressions... had to learn to put two and two together with large information gaps.