Beware of Microsoft Phone Scams

| July 27, 2012

You’ve probably gotten the call stating your computer is at risk and your antivirus has expired. I can deduce this because I have gotten the call several times in the past few months. The caller claims to be from Microsoft and, aside from the foreign accent, will be relatively convincing. They do, afterall, know your name and number and that you’re running Windows on your computer.

This is a scam and their goal is to ultimately get remote access to your machine and install viruses and rootkits in addition to conning you into buying their phony warranty plan.

Here is a YouTube video example of one of these scams. The victim immediately knew this was a scam and did a great job stringing the guy along for several minutes. The caller attempts to gain access to her computer via a logmein remote desktop connection. Toward the end of the call she gives the man a piece of her mind.

How do you know if the caller is really from Microsoft, then?

That’s easy, they’re not. Microsoft would never call you. The caller might claim to be from Windows Helpdesk, Microsoft Support or even the Windows Technical Department Support Group, but they are not. If you didn’t hang up within the first minute, you likely believed their ploy and have allowed them to access your computer.

So now what?

What To Do If You’ve Fallen Victim To A Microsoft Phone Scam

If these people have been given free access to your computer, you can be assured they have installed some type of rootkit virus capable of collecting your personal data and passwords. You should stop using this computer immediately and begin taking action to rid the computer of any viruses. Below are some of the things you should do:

Format and Reinstall – While frowned upon by some tech professionals, formatting your computer and reinstalling the Operating System, Applications and data from scratch is one sure-fire way to rid yourself of the virus. Some techs even prefer to wipe the drive with a program called Derik’s Boot and Nuke (DBan), which wipes the drive by overwriting it with several passes of ones and zeros. If you have a Windows install DVD, this might be the best option for you.

Or

Run Windows Defender Offline – The Windows Defender Offline utility is burned to a DVD and then run as you boot the computer. Since it runs before the virus can be loaded into memory, it is a great way to scan your computer for malware.

Or

Run TDSSKillerTDSSKiller from Kaspersky is a popular program for removing viruses and rootkits from computers.

Be Paranoid – From a different computer, change the passwords for your email account, bank accounts and any other critical accounts that may have been compromised from this attack.

Microsoft Scam Resources

Don’t feel bad if you’ve fallen victim to this scam. The important thing is to pass this information on to friend’s and family to make sure they are aware of this threat. If you get the call just hang up. Resist the urge to be polite because these people are criminals. Don’t bother telling them to place you on a do not call list or try to get their credentials. They will not abide by any rules.

Visit this Microsoft page for information on additional scamming methods used to get access to your computer.

Let us know if you’ve gotten this call and what your experience was.

Category: Security

Dave

About the Author ()

Dave has been providing free computer repair and tech support advice online since 2002. Join us on our forums and be sure to subscribe to our newsletter for weekly tips and other helpful computer articles. Connect with me on: Google+

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  1. PCTechBytes Top Tech Resolutions | December 31, 2013
  1. Here are a few others to watch out for

    – “Your account has been compromised.”

    Whether you receive this notice via email, text or telephone, you’re typically directed to a website that downloads malicious software onto your computer or requests that you provide personal information, which the scammer will use to steal from you.

    Web links can be “masked” to look like your bank or credit card company’s website, but clicking it takes you to a completely different site. To thwart this, hover your cursor over the link to see the actual address you’ll be directed to.

    Stick to this simple rule: Never click on a link in an email or reply to an unsolicited message with personal information. Call the company or go directly to its website by typing the address into the browser bar yourself.

    – “Click here for your chance to win!”

    Now that so many of us frequent Facebook, it’s no surprise scam artists have started targeting our social networking activities. Common bait is the posting on a friend’s page with these enticing words: “I just signed up to win an iPad 2. Click here for your chance to win!” Click the link and you’ll be prompted to allow access to your Facebook account and personal information before being “entered into the contest.” The result? You end up with lots of spam and your personal data compromised or sold.

    Pinterest, a hugely popular “shareable scrapbook” linked to Facebook, allows people to “pin” pictures to their boards that automatically link to outside websites. Beware of those encouraging you to “re-pin” for a reward, often a gift certificate to your favorite store. Provide your information to claim the nonexistent prize and, as with the iPad contest example, you expose yourself to data mining.

    – “Oops, I overpaid you.”

    Many buyers and sellers already know not to enter into an online transaction that requires an advance fee, or send a high-dollar item to a potential buyer without payment in escrow. One sneakier trick is the “overpayment” scam. A buyer makes a strong offer, and then sends you a check for more than the price you agreed upon. “Oops, do you mind wiring me the difference?” You wire the cash, his check bounces, and he disappears with your money.

    – “You’re pre-approved.”

    Then there’s the pre-approved credit card offer that requires a “small transaction fee” to process your application. You send money and never hear from the company again. Bottom line: Don’t provide information or payment in response to any unsolicited email, pop-up ad, Web contact or phone call.

  2. Tracy says:

    A call from— “Microsoft support”????

    Lol, I’m sorry- what did you say? Isn’t that an oxymoron???

    :)

    Seriously though- where did this come from? I’ve gotten about three of these calls in the past week myself…

    • Bubba says:

      Tracy;
      [edited] Why do you Microsoft haters have to always pick on Microsoft, they provide a lot of software and JOBs. If you don’t like them stop using their software!

  3. Dave Dave says:

    They likely come from overseas. Just hang up on them. I got another yesterday, as a matter of fact.

  4. Doug says:

    I got one of these yesterday! I listened until he said he wanted to connect me to someone who could walk me through the process of allowing someone to connect to my computer and help me out.

    • Dave Dave says:

      Yeah, see how easy it is. Great job realizing the con before it was too late. This whole article was about raising awareness. Please be sure to talk to your friends and family members.

  5. Rob milner says:

    I had one of these calls a few months ago and was stringing the guy along as my wife hunted for a whistle so I could blow it down the phone, as it took so long when the guy asked what was now showing on the screen I shouted down the phone something similar to “get lost you little scammer” and hung up only for him to ring back and asked what was on my screen again so I just replied word for word what I’d said before.

  6. John says:

    I like the idea of hovering over a link to make sure you see the address, but the sad news is that the latest version of firefox has disabled the status bar and it has to be loaded through a plugin (not cool!). Also tiny/short URLs are now popular making this impossible.
    And why can’t these people be stopped? They use Logmein. So trace their account to the owner. They use a website, Whois the owner and the credit card used. Even though they cannot be sued (assuming), can we at least have the domain blocked and/or added to MSSE/Malwarebytes/SBS&D,etc!

  7. Mark T says:

    I got conned last year and I used my credit card to pay for the fake Microsoft warranty, i also let them into my computer. When I saw what was happening I got suspicious. I then immediately contacted my bank and stopped payment and cancelled my credit card then got a new one issued. I later got an abusive phone call saying I owed them money, that really made my day..
    I then phoned Microsoft and they confirmed I had been scammed. My next and final move was to immediately stop using my computer and take it to a trusted computer shop explaining what had happened. The cost was worth it as there damage was completely undone.

    • Dave Dave says:

      Thanks for sharing your story.

    • T says:

      Thank you for sharing. My parents fell victim of the scam and fell really naive for believing it. They cancelled their credit card, changed all their passwords, and took their computer to a computer show. They are also checking their caller id and not answering calls from unknown numbers.

  8. Rob milner says:

    I had a call tonight, the first time on my new number, and could not find my whistle before he hung up. I think he got confused when he told me I was having problems with my windows and I asked him which ones, we’re they the kitchen bathroom sitting room etc.

    Now expecting regular calls attempting to scam me so will have the whistle ready for when I tell him I get this funny noise after performing the things he asks me to do, will ask him nicely if he would like to hear it

  9. John says:

    I got a call yesterday from the so-called Windows Support whatever it was.

    I told the a-h to f-himself and he hung up on me.

    I’m waiting them to call again. I’ll put my cell phone inside my grand piano and play every key with the pedal down. :)

  10. Bengie says:

    The guys have been calling me for awhile now . But I hang up on them. This morning A girl called trying the same thing. I let her talk for a minute then told her not to call me again. She then gave me an 800 number (1800-986-4764 ). I have Not called them back.

  11. Riiza says:

    I just got a call like an hour ago. The second one I’ve gotten so far. Apparently they have been getting msgs from my computer ID of ‘malicious’ virus attacks. I was referred to 3 different techs before I found out what was supposedly wrong with my pc. My Microsoft software had expired.

    Then they listed all these diff. warranty plans that would help rid my pc of any virus. Meh, I told him I didn’t work so I didn’t have any money on me at the moment. Then he asked me if I would be able to borrow money from a relative by next week. I’m like WTF? I told him to call me next month when I’m still broke LMAO.

    I kind of figured it was a scam considering every single person I spoke with had an accent and I’m like hello… do all Microsoft employees have Indian accents? Can’t wait to talk to Jack again who was Victor in that Youtube vid again next month ROFLMAO…