Microsoft calling? Mind the tech support scammer!

Microsoft calling? Mind the tech support scammer!

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After a long day, there is nothing like sitting down at your computer with a cup of tea to catch up on the news online. But what would you do if you were faced with a pop-up telling you that your computer has a virus and that ‘tech support’ is conveniently letting you know?

The solution seems only a quick call away. The popup even provides you with the 1800 number.

But, it’s the people who are claiming to help you that are about to load your computer full of junk and charge your credit card for the privilege.

What these scams look like

These tech scams can appear in various ways, whether by a popup on your browser or a call on your home phone number. Here’s what to look out for:

Over the phone
Usually calling from places such as India, these scammers target any person listed in the phone directories of the U.S, Canada, the UK, or Australia.

The scam is simple. Someone calls, pretending to be calling from Microsoft or a partner company. They ask you to give them remote control access of the machine, trick you into installing their software after they show you lists of fake error reports.

Once the installation is complete, they ask for your credit card details to charge you for the ‘anti-virus’ they have just installed. In the meantime, you have absolutely no way of knowing what has been installed and what kind of private information you have just given away. Microsoft is aware of these scams and reports on their website:

“You will never receive a legitimate call from Microsoft or our partners to charge you for computer fixes.”

Pop-ups:
Causing further distress, Bleeping computer recently reported on a particular type of scam that prevents users from even closing their browser without calling the number on their screen to have the message removed. This kind of scam borders on the edge of ransomware as you feel forced to call and inevitably pay to have your system ‘cleaned.’

These popups flood websites with high amounts of traffic and popular search engines. Even if you google tech support online these scammers have paid to reach the top of search engine listings. Even if they don’t convince you with the popup, they can easily convince you from a google search that they are a legitimate online tech service.

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Consequences for scammers

Recently, a collection of US companies were reported and caught for running this kind of scam by using popups to scare users into calling for tech support and pushing them into purchasing services they didn’t need. CSO Australia reports:

“Charges have been filed against Missouri-registered firms Global Access Technical Support, Global sMind, Source Pundit, Helios Digital Media, and an Indian company, Global Ites Private Limited. Defendants include three individuals who own the firms.”

What you can do

  • Ignore pop-ups within your browser that lock up your screen or ask you to call a number to ‘clean your system.’
  • If your browser is locked by the popup, move your mouse to the clock in the bottom right hand corner of your screen and right click to open the ‘task manager.’ Select your web browser from the list and close the program.
  • If the popups continue, run Emsisoft Emergency Kit to clear your computer of potentially unwanted programs (PUPs) that may be causing the constant popups.
  • If you receive phone calls claiming to be tech support or Microsoft, simply hang up.
  • If you are already infected and have paid for the service offered over the phone, immediately dispute the transaction with your bank and contact a trusted computer technician to remove the software that was installed by the scammer.
  • Use a reputable anti-malware solution such as Emsisoft Anti-Malware to keep nasty popups out of your browser.

Have a great (scam-free) day!

  • michael

    Lmfao when at school it come up and i had to help close it from task manager.

    • Kenneth Volz

      Seems in the last few months a lot of antimalware apps are showing up. I wonder if behind some of them is the malware producer?

  • Yemto

    If I got a call from “Microsoft” about my computer having a virus, I would boot up one of my virtual machines, and have a lot of fun wasting the callers time. Thankfully I’m tech savvy enough to recognize this kind of scam.

    • Innula Zenovka

      I did get a call the other day. When she said she was calling from “Microsoft Security,” I simply said, “Look, we both know you’re lying, don’t we?” and she put the phone down.

      • Ruth Van Horne

        I love this response……….will have to remember it in case I get such a call……then you can charge me with plagiarism…………..LOL.

        • makinamotze

          I pretend to be a hard of hearing Alzheimers patient, and waste lots of their time by saying “can you repeat that” or “mishearing what they say? At the end, when I sense they are going to bail, I ask about their mother’s sexual activity status.

      • Kenneth Volz

        Much more fun to say “” You are on the air””

        • Innula Zenovka

          Good one! Thanks. I’ll try that if they call again.

    • Kenneth Volz

      Kind of having fun on their time. Time is money???

      • Yemto

        Well, if they are wasting time one me, then that scammer isn’t scamming someone else.

  • Jaklo

    If I got a call from M/soft about my computer’s problem.
    My reply, “Oh good, I’m glad you can fix it, can you swim, it fell in the pool today still plugged in to the power supply .”

  • Jerry Del Vecchio

    When my computer locked up and the popup tried to get me to call the 800 number, I unplugged the power and removed the battery. After the battery was removed, I pressed the power key to drain residual power. Then I reinserted battery and plugged in power cord. Popup was gone, computer unlocked. I did a scan with anti-malware and cleaned out files. No problems since doing that.

  • I have to laugh at these guys, they’ve called me twice claiming to be from HP. Not sure exactly how they got my info but it’s a similar scam. “Hi,I’m form H and your laptop is infected with a virus.” Really and know know this how? “Well we have been noticing your computer has downloaded this virus infected files” Really? WOW! Hahaha, I play along and waste of of there time for a few minutes, then tell them I know they are scammers. “Oh no, I’m not a scammer, I from HP. How would I have your information otherwise” Ugh,getting sick of these calls, it’s getting old.

  • Kim Richter

    For whatever reasons I seem to be their preferred target: 4 times in 5 months, of which the last 2 times happened during the last 2 months. First a “Microsoft” pop up blocks the computer, unless one knows what keys to use to delete the pop up and unlock it again. In all 4 cases a male with a South Asian Indian accent answers the 800 number, introduces himself as a MS certified support engineer and offers to “Repair” my computer. Since all parties involved on the other side always speak English with an Indian accents, I can assume that it is a South Asian scam. When you tell them that you go to an MS office and seek help there, they hang up.

    One of the reasons that this scam has increased so badly in Canada is because our police forces practically ignore complaints about such scams. Their excuse is that “it’s international!” And this seems to involve more police work than national fraud, although it is a very lucrative fraud that leaves damages for victims in the multi-million dollar range.

  • Wolf

    What if you let them connect in your Virtual Machine? and after they finish their evil deeds tell them that the computer is fine and thank them by restoring it by snapshots and let them do it over and over again?

  • Shirley Kirouac

    I have had this happen twice. The first time I called the number and the guy said he could fix it but he would have to charge for it. I told him I would try and fix it myself, and if I could not, I would call him back. I shut down my computer, then started it up and ran the scan twice.
    A couple of weeks ago I got the same thing. Did not call the number, but shut it down, etc., like before. These guys are real scumbags! So glad I didn’t fall for it.

    Thanks for all you do in getting the word out to those of us who are not gurus.