Guiding consumers since 2009

What are Microsoft phone scams?

By Staff Writer
There are a number of different scams out there, which can look scarily similar to legitimate transactions and messages from the banks themselves. One of these is the Microsoft phone scam, where someone phones you pretending to be from the company’s technical support, offering to assist you with a problem, or sell you a new license.
 
These scammers contact consumers and talk them into downloading software or giving out their user name and passwords, thereby allowing the scammer access to their computer.
 
Microsoft has highlighted that “neither Microsoft nor out partners make unsolicited phone calls (also known as cold calls) to charge you for computer security or software fixes.”
 
Scammers typically:
·         Trick consumers into downloading software onto their computers, which allows the scammer access to personal information.
·         Tell consumers to download software from legitimate websites, which allows the scammer to remotely control and access your computer and “adjust settings to leave your computer vulnerable.”
·         They may request credit card information to charge you for their services.
·         Direct you to a fraudulent website, where they require you to fill out credit card and personal information.
 
How the scam works
 
Microsoft offers consumers some insight into what the scammers will claim to know.
 
“Cybercriminals often use publicly available phone directories, so they might know your name and other personal information when they call you. They might even guess what operating system you're using,” explained the Microsoft website.
 
Once they have gained your trust (as you believe they are a technician from Microsoft), the scammers may ask you for your user name and password, or to visit a website to download software which will allow them to gain access to your computer to fix it.
 
Microsoft highlight that once you have done this, the scammer will have access to your computer and any personal information that you have stored on it.
 
Among the places that the scammers claim to work for are:
·         Windows Helpdesk
·         Windows Service Center
·         Microsoft Tech Support
·         Microsoft Support
·         Windows Technical Department Support Group
·         Microsoft Research and Development Team (Microsoft R & D Team)
(Source: Microsoft)
 
Protecting yourself from scammers
 
Microsoft offers users a few tips to help protect themselves from people claiming to be from the company’s technical support.
 
·         Do not purchase any software or services that you are offered via the phone.
·         If the person on the phone tells you that there is a subscription fee for the service you are being offered, don’t continue with the call.
·         Do not allow anyone third party control of your computer, unless it is a company with whom you are a customer and whom you have dealt with in the past.
·         Take down all of the caller’s information and report them to the authorities.
·         Do not provide any credit card or personal information to anyone claiming to be from Microsoft’s technical support team.
 
Microsoft added: “There are some cases where Microsoft will work with your Internet service provider and call you to fix a malware-infected computer—such as during the recent clean-up effort begun in our botnet takedown actions. These calls will be made by someone with whom you can verify you already are a customer. You will never receive a legitimate call from Microsoft or our partners to charge you for computer fixes.”

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