There’s a new scam making the rounds that’s guaranteed to scare some computer users half to death. You’re blithely surfing the web when suddenly a web page opens that starts either beeping loudly, or worse yet, talking to you in a computer generated voice:
*YOUR MICROSOFT COMPUTER HAS BEEN BLOCKED*
Windows System Alert!!
System has been infected due to unexpected error!
Please Contact Microsoft 1-855-653-4481 Immediately!
to unblock your computer.
Registry Failure of Operating System.
Error Code: rundll32.exe
And accompanied by something that looks like this:
Take a deep breath. Relax. Do Nothing! Put down that phone!
In all probability, everything’s OK. You have visited a “poisoned” website that has re-directed you to this scam page. This sort of thing is not too hard for a reasonably good web page writer to do. It’s a complete hoax… But if you call that phone number, it will cost you, and you’ll get nothing but grief in return!
When these scammers get you on the phone, one (or both) of two things will happen: Your “Certified Microsoft technician” will have you pay to install software on your computer that really will screw it up, then ask for money to fix it, or he will get you to grant remote access to your machine, whereupon he can steal anything he wants, such as passwords, credit card numbers, you name it.
There are other variations on this, such as the “Activate Windows” scam:
And others that all ask you to call a toll-free number for support.
- Always be sure you have reputable security software, and that it’s up-to-date.
- Install the Web of Trust browser add-on for all the web browsers you use. it’s available for Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, and Firefox. (If you use Windows 10, it’s not yet available for the Edge browser; I recommend you install either Firefox or Chrome and use one of those instead.) This add-on should warn you if you’re about to visit a known-bad website, although it’s not foolproof because the bad websites are a moving target.
- Don’t install any software that is advertised in a pop-up or is otherwise unsolicited.
- Do not ever search Google, Bing, or any search site for security software. There are too many rogue sites out there. Instead, visit ninite.com. They have all the security software you need.
- Never call any “Tech Support” number that unexpectedly pops up on your screen. They are all scams.
- If you can’t close the window or navigate away from the page, shut down the computer immediately. That means click the start button and select Shut Down. Other options will just put the computer to sleep, and the annoyance will still be there next time.
- If you get any “Activate Windows” messages, you can check for yourself if Windows is legit: Right-click on “Computer” (Windows Vista and 7) or “This PC” (Windows 8 and 10), and select “Properties.” At the bottom of the Properties window you will see the current activation status.More info:
For even more empowering technology info, read my new book, “Deciphering the 21st Century,” Available now!
I’d love to hear your comments!