You may get a call from “Microsoft” or “Microsoft Tech Support” – claiming that they have detected serious problems with your computer. They may even call you by name. They say they can take control of your computer and fix it for you.
- This is a scam – don’t fall for it!
- Microsoft do not make unsolicited technical support calls
- People who make these kinds of calls are scammers
- Tell them to go away
- If they call you back – ignore the call!
- This kind of con-trick is called Social Engineering
- They may have got your name from the phone directory
From a Recent Guardian Article:
The scam always starts the same way: the phone rings at someone’s home, and the caller – usually with an Indian accent – asks for the householder, quoting their name and address before saying “I’m calling for Microsoft. We’ve had a report from your internet service provider of serious virus problems from your computer.”
Dire forecasts are made that if the problem is not solved, the computer will become unusable.
The puzzled owner is then directed to their computer, and asked to open a program called “Windows Event Viewer”. Its contents are, to the average user, worrying: they look like a long list of errors, some labelled “critical”. “Yes, that’s it,” says the caller. “Now let me guide you through the steps to fixing it.”
The computer owner is directed to a website and told to download a program that hands over remote control of the computer, and the caller “installs” various “fixes” for the problem. And then it’s time to pay a fee: £185 for a “subscription” to the “preventative service”.
The only catch: there was never anything wrong with the computer, the caller is not working for Microsoft or the internet service provider, and the owner has given a complete stranger access to every piece of data on their machine
Notice on Microsoft’s website warning about these scams
Avoid scams that use the Microsoft name fraudulently
Cybercriminals often use the names of well-known companies, like ours, in their scams. They think it will convince you to give them money or your personal information. While they usually use email to trick you, they sometimes use the telephone, instead.
Common Phone scams that use the Microsoft name
- Someone from “Microsoft Tech Support” calls to fix your computer
- “You have won the Microsoft Lottery”
- Microsoft “requires credit card information to validate your copy of Windows”
- “Microsoft” sends unsolicited email messages with attached security updates
Avoid these dangerous hoaxes
We do not send unsolicited email messages or make unsolicited phone calls to request personal or financial information or fix your computer.
If you receive an unsolicited email message or phone call that purports to be from Microsoft and requests that you send personal information or click links, delete the message or hang up the phone.
Microsoft does not make unsolicited phone calls to help you fix your computer
In this scam cybercriminals call you and claim to be from Microsoft Tech Support. They offer to help solve your computer problems. Once the crooks have gained your trust, they attempt to steal from you and damage your computer with malicious software including viruses and spyware.
Although law enforcement can trace phone numbers, perpetrators often use pay phones, disposable cellular phones, or stolen cellular phone numbers. It’s better to avoid being conned rather than try to repair the damage afterwards.
Treat all unsolicited phone calls with skepticism. Do not provide any personal information.
If you receive an unsolicited call from someone claiming to be from Microsoft Tech Support, hang up. We do not make these kinds of calls.
If you think you might be a victim of fraud, you can report it. For more information, see: What to do if you think you have been a victim of a scam.
Microsoft warns on support phone scams:
Thousands still falling for old-school tech support swindle
By John Oates
A survey from Microsoft reveals just how widespread the fake tech support call scam is becoming.
The crooks cold-call people at home and claim to be calling from Microsoft or a well-known security firm and offering “free security checks”.
The software giant surveyed 7,000 computer users in the UK, Ireland, US and Canada and found an average of 16 per cent of people had received such calls. In Ireland this rose to a staggering 26 per cent.
More than a fifth of those who received such a call, or 3 per cent of the total surveyed, were tricked into following the crooks instructions which ranged from allowing remote access of their machines, downloading dodgy code or in some cases giving credit card information in order to make purchases.
Microsoft said if someone claiming to be from Windows or Microsoft Tech Support calls you: “Do not purchase any software or services. Ask if there is a fee or subscription associated with the ‘service’. If there is, hang up.”
Redmond said 79 per cent of those tricked suffered financial loss – the average loss was $875 (£542). Losses ranged from just $82 (£51) in Ireland to a whopping $1,560 (£967) in Canada.
Microsoft warned that while the gangs were currently targeting English-speaking countries it was just a matter of time before they go after other countries.
The company advised anyone who had already fallen for such a scam to change their passwords, scan their machines for malware and contact their bank and credit card providers.
There is more discussion of the issue here