Fake Microsoft Support Calls Can Cost You
Let me preface this article by saying that just like the IRS, Microsoft will never call you to fix a problem in your computer. They are not monitoring your computer remotely and they absolutely do not care what you are doing with it or what condition it is in.
Like many other scams, these people target our seniors. The elderly are easier targets, as frequently they are uncomfortable with their computers in the first place and scare more easily.
One of the latest scams on the rise is the fake Microsoft phone call. It works like this:
- Your phone rings.
- You answer it.
- A voice on the other end, usually with a pronounced Indian accent tells you he works for Microsoft and they have detected several hundred infections on your computer that require immediate attention. And they are here to help.
- They convince you to allow remote access to your computer.
- At this very moment you are thoroughly screwed, because the first thing they are going to do is run a script that password protects your entire computer. You will NOT get back into it after a reboot. Period. They will inform you that if you do not pay them several hundred dollars you will never see your data again.
- This will be a very expensive problem.
- This is the point where you should step away from your computer and call us. We can still get your data off the computer at this point. We can most likely still get it off your computer after a reboot, but let’s not count on that. Even when you can no longer see your desktop because these scammers are holding your computer hostage for a ransom – we can still get back into it and recover your data. A full reinstallation of your OS will probably be necessary.
Microsoft has published a good deal of information on this topic and is in the process of suing one company responsible for this invasive type of attack.
NEVER let anyone gain access to your computer if they do not have a legitimate phone number you can verify and call back. It’s that simple.
As an example, I had a case exactly like this where a couple were victimized by these sleaze bags and we are doing a full reinstall of their computer as a result.
I have received phone calls from these scammers myself, which I find amusing, since I do this for a living – AND there are no Windows PCs in our house. We use all Macs. There’s a good reason for this.
If you find yourself in this situation, there are several things you need to do:
- Document everything – person’s name, phone number, time and date of the incident. Write down all the details.
- File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission
- File a complaint with your state Attorney General (here in Texas that will really tie their tail in a knot)
- File a complaint with the Better Business Bureau