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.
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.
Run TDSSKiller – TDSSKiller 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.