I’m from Microsoft and I’m Here To Help You…

So you answer the phone one day, and someone with a thick foreign accent says, “Hello, my name is Etaoin Shrdlu with Microsoft Tech Support, and we’ve detected a problem with your computer.”

“What kind of a problem?”

“Sir, there are many error messages coming from your computer. You have 22,405 viruses.”

Hang up! Run!

This is just a variation on the classic “Phishing” scam, except they use the phone instead of email. Microsoft (Or any other legitimate support company) will never call you to tell you you have a problem with your computer. They may call and ask, if you’ve done business with them before, but they won’t tell.

The dangers are many. The scammer will often ask you for temporary control of your computer, so they can show you where the errors are. They will show you a page with lots of “Errors” and “Critical Alerts,” which in actuality are just normal operations of Windows. They will then tell you they can fix the errors for a sum of money, typically $50-$250.

Don’t fall for it. Do not ever allow a stranger control of your computer, unless you initiated the call, and you completely trust the company. They cannot take control unless you give your permission.  If it’s a scam, once they have control of your machine, they can do anything, including deleting your files, or otherwise screwing up your computer. Plus, if you gave them your credit card number, well, you’re toast.

Nobody that cold calls you has any knowledge of your computer problems. Don’t give them any information. Just say no.

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