Despite four or more years of public education efforts, malware telephone scams are on the rise. These scams frequently take the form of a phone call from a man claiming to work for Microsoft, who informs the computer owner that his computer is infected with malware. If the homeowner has an Apple computer the scammer hangs up, In the more common case where the homeowner has a Windows computer, he believes the scam artist must work for Microsoft since he knew that he had a Windows computer. Microsoft has also published guidelines to help the public recognize this scam. Read more below including links to major forums that discuss the problem as well as a link to a video recording of a live scammer telephone.
Efforts to engage in the Microsoft computer repair scam have continued well into 2014. The fraud begins when a caller, frequently with a disguised Indian accent, explains to the unsuspecting victim that he works for Microsoft or an affiliate and he has noticed the victim’s PC is sending out a number of error messages.
If the person taking the call believes the caller, he will be instructed to go to his computer and open Event Viewer or other files and folders. Event Viewer is one of many files that contains error messages even when the computer is working normally (see above). In each case the caller will try and make use of the fears and naivety of the computer owner to get him/her to authorize the caller to access the computer, or the recipient’s credit card info. The scam telemarketer is out to make money and desires to acquire the victim’s credit card and bank account information so he can sell him an unnecessary anti-malware program; make bogus charges on the card; gain online access to the computer to implant malware that will hurt it and force the owner purchase a program to solve the problem; employ the malware implant to collect bank and credit card information; or else get the owner to surf to a website, where the scam artist and his colleagues can download malware onto the computer.
This malware telephone scam has been discussed in web forums. You can read some of the best posts and responses at Microsoft virus phone scam . You can also read Microsoft’s suggestions as to how to deal with these hoax calls here: “How to avoid malware phone scams.” You can find a YouTube video of a Microsoft scam phone call. If you think you’ve been infected, you can put the Microsoft anti-malware program on your computer by searching for the Microsoft Security Scanner and the Microsoft Security Essentials. Microsoft Security Essentials has been replaced by Microsoft Defender for Windows 8 owners.
One important point worth making is that most forums will tell you that it is not standard Microsoft practice to call you, their customer, and tell you your computer is infected with malware. That’s not exactly true, as you can read for yourself at the bottom of Microsoft’s avoid phone scam page. What Microsoft actually says is that should a Microsoft employee call you, it will be someone with whom you are already doing business. However, you need to follow their recommendation and disconnect the call and call Microsoft back to ascertain that they did indeed call you, as how else can you tell whether or not to believe the caller who claims to be from Microsoft. Many people have Windows, so the caller may have made a lucky guess when he referred to your Windows program.
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