I have had an increase of calls in the last few weeks from clients and friends contact me about calls they have received from Microsoft, luckily they all detected this was a scam and did not follow the instructions they were given over the phone. Please read the following information and don’t get caught out.
If you receive a phone call from a security ‘expert’ offering to fix your PC – it’s a scam. Here’s how to avoid the ‘Microsoft phone scam’, and what to do if you fear you have fallen victim to it.
Microsoft phone scam: how it works
Scammers call you, and asks for you by name. They say they are a computer security expert from Microsoft (or another legitimate tech company). The ‘security expert’ is plausible and polite, but officious. They say that your PC or laptop has been infected with malware, and that they can help you solve the problem. What happens now depends on the particular strain of scam with which you have been targeted.
Some will ask you to give them remote access to your PC or laptop, and then use the access to harness your personal data. Others get you to download malware that will do that task for you. A more straightforward scam is to simply ask for money in return for a lifetime of ‘protection’ from the malware they pretend is on your machine.
Here’s the important bit: no legitimate IT security pro is ever going to call you in this way. For one thing, they can’t tell that your PC is infected. They’ve got your name from the phone book, or any one of the thousands of marketing lists on which your details probably reside. They know nothing about your home computing set up – it’s a fishing trip to see if they can hook some low-hanging fruit (forgive the torturous mixed metaphors).
Basically, somebody is sitting in a room calling number after number hoping to find a victim. It’s not personal, but it is ultimately dangerous to your financial and technological health.
Microsoft phone scam: what to do if you are called
1. Number one: put the phone down. Get rid of the caller and move on with your life. It is not a legitimate call.
2. During your conversation, don’t provide any personal information. This is a good rule for any unsolicited call and certainly never hand over your credit card or bank details. Just don’t do it.
3. If you’ve got this far, we can only reiterate point number 1: get off the phone. But whatever you do don’t allow a stranger to guide you to a certain webpage, or instruct you to change a setting on your PC or download software.
4. If possible get the caller’s details. You should certainly report any instance of this scam to the police.
5. Finally, change any passwords and usernames that could plausibly have been compromised, and run a scan with up-to-date security software. Then ensure that your firewall and antivirus are up to date and protecting your PC.
Microsoft phone scam: what to do if you have been a victim
First of all don’t beat yourself up. This could happen to anyone (and does). First of all, you need to change all the personal data that you can change. As much as you might like to you can’t change your date of birth, and changing your name and address seems extreme. You can change all your passwords and usernames, starting with your main email account and any bank and credit card logins. Also, contact your bank to ask them to be on the look out for anything dodgy.
Again, use up-to-date security software to scan and cleanse your PC, and if the scammer did get you to do something to your PC using System Restore to roll back the settings is always a good idea. And tell the police. If you have lost money, it’s possible your credit card company or contents insurance will cover the loss.
For a free remote security check-up on your PC call WCR today this applies to Home & Business Users, we will make sure your up to date and protected and give you peace of mind.