Microsoft Scams

Most people are aware of online scams that are targeted using the Internet either on websites or by email. Scams can sometimes actually occur in person in the form of a phone call. Tech support scammers call and pretend to be a computer technician from either your own company or a well-known company such as Microsoft claiming they have detected an issue with your computer and it needs immediate attention. They’ll usually want to set up a remote connection in order to help. Please be wary of these Microsoft Telephone Tech Support Scams and take caution.

How Microsoft Telephone Tech Support Scams Work

The scam itself is very simple. Victims will either receive a telephone call or a popup message on their computer to contact Microsoft at a number that is listed in the popup. If you call that number, it will be answered as “Microsoft Technical Support” or something similar. They’ll continue on, saying that they detected that your PC has suffered a specific issue. Perhaps they found malware on it, or your security is about to expire. Either way, they’ll push to gain access to your PC. They may ask you to visit a site to help with remote connections and give you details of how to connect. Using this access, criminals could install malware, such as keyloggers that capture online banking details, or they could try to carry out other scams against the victim.

How will i know it is a Tech support Scam?

Identifying a Microsoft technician is easy: If they’re phoning you, they’re not a technician! Microsoft will never call you in order to warn you about a malware infection or expired key. The only times you’ll really talk to a technician is if you called Microsoft support yourself. If you haven’t called technicians recently, and you get a call from them, it’s a scammer without a doubt. You can read more about how Microsoft handles their support via their page on the topic.

Below are some tips to protect yourself or if you have been infected:

  • Microsoft will NOT make unsolicited calls offering to fix your computer.
  • Don’t give control of your computer to a third party who calls you out of the blue.
  • Do not rely on caller ID alone to authenticate a caller. Criminals spoof caller ID numbers. They may appear to be calling from a legitimate company or a local number when they’re not even in the same country as you.
  • Use caution with online search results when searching for technical support or get a company’s contact information. Scammers sometimes place online ads to convince you to call them. If possible, get a reference from someone you know and trust. Otherwise, visit a known company’s site directly to get accurate contact information.
  • Never provide your credit card or financial information to someone who calls and claims to be from tech support.
  • Don’t buy any computer security product or a subscription fee associated with the call.
  • Never give your password on the phone. No legitimate organisation will request your password.
  • Be aware if you get a random popup message with a phone number, it can be a false number.

Microsoft has estimated that tech support scams victimise 3.3 million people a year, at an annual cost of $1.5 billion. This equates to an average loss of more than $450 per victim. Many victims never even realise they’ve been conned. If you ever receive a call from a “Microsoft Technician” when you had not specifically asked them for help in the past, do not do anything they say. They will never call you out of the blue, so you will know for sure that you’re talking to a scammer! Simply hang up, and don’t give out any details.

What to Do If You Were Scammed

If you paid a tech support scammer with a credit or debit card, you may be able to stop the transaction. Contact your credit card company or bank right away. Tell them what happened and ask if they can reverse the charges.

If you gave a scammer remote access to your computer, update your computer’s security software. Then run a scan and delete anything it identifies as a problem.

If you gave your user name and password to a tech support scammer, change your password right away. If you use the same password for other accounts or sites, change it there, too. Create a new password that is strong.

If a tech support scammer contacts you, report it to the Federal Trade Commission. When you report a scam, the FTC can use the information to build cases against scammers.

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