Windows Secrets: Alert-Microsoft Tech Support Scam

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By Woody Leonhard/Windows Secrets

Con artists all over the world are bilking big bucks out of unsuspecting Microsoft customers — including savvy Windows users.

In this new epidemic, the scammers are sophisticated, glib, and oh-so-convincing. Know the warning signs. You may be next.

Inside one con that almost succeeded

Here’s how MP describes his experience:

  • “I was having a problem with Windows XP and posted an inquiry on one of the [presumed to be] Microsoft support sites. My wife received a call from someone wanting to talk to me about my computer. She gave a time when I would be home. I was expecting a call from my ISP. The call came at the arranged time, but it was not the ISP. The caller said he was working on behalf of Microsoft and directed me to a very convincing website for confirmation of his company and his credentials. The caller knew my name and telephone number.

    “We talked about the problems I’ve been having with Windows XP. He said it sounded like a virus. He guided me into Windows XP’s Event Viewer and showed me a number of red and yellow flags for applications and systems, which he said were indicative of a malware attack.

    “He offered to get a technician to sort the problem for free and directed me to a website, where I had to enter some contact information and my Windows activation code, from the sticker on my PC. He talked me through the process — we were on the phone for almost an hour at that point — and it all went smoothly until I had to enter some sort of warranty code that I didn’t have. He told me to hang on while he checked with his boss.

    “A few minutes later, he was back and gave me the unfortunate news that my free support period had ended. He told me I would have to pay $99 for extended support and directed me to a place on the website to enter my credit card information. I’m not sure why, but I smelled a rat, so I hung up on him.

    “The caller knew what he was talking about, knew my name and phone number, knew that I was running Windows XP, and knew that I was having problems. I’m a professional electrical engineer and fully aware of phishing and other scams, but I was nearly taken in.”

    MP sent me the address of the site the caller used for a reference. I won’t repeat it here because, to this day, I’m not sure whether it’s a legitimate consulting firm site or whether it exists only to provide a backstory for swindlers.

    The site went on to say, “The first point of contact is generally the manufacturer’s tech support. However, as manufacturers and others scale back on in-house technical support to control costs, innovative and entrepreneurial technical support companies are building a robust business of providing help and a sense of security to consumers.”

    Then I noticed that the site’s mailing address is in Kolkata and the domain is registered in Jharkhand, India — a long, long way from MP’s stomping grounds.

    Robust? You could call it that.

    Be aware of tricks of the con artist’s trade

    I wish MP’s story were unique, but it isn’t.

    How in the world did the con artist take him in? It’s easier than you think.

    Article continued here

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  • 11 thoughts on “Windows Secrets: Alert-Microsoft Tech Support Scam”

    1. When the phony Microsoft service calls I say, “What? What are you talking about?” They go through there stupid spiel about how your computer is putting corruption out to the internet. Then I say, “Why are you calling me? I don’t even have a computer you idiot. I just use a cell phone.” They usually hang up or swear at me. To everyone out there that may read these comments. No one that is legitimate will ever call you on the phone and demand money, service, imprisonment etc. and use scare tactics to get what they want. I’ve had very intimidating calls from the U.S. Treasury claiming a fraud case against my name, threatening imprisonment if I didn’t call the number they provided. Same with the phony IRS scam calls that claim you haven’t paid your taxes or had an error in filing your taxes and demand immediate payment to avoid imprisonment. Treat every call with extreme caution and if there is a question as to legitimacy of the call, check with the company or government agency they claim to be from or run their number on Google. Google will come up with a lot of info that will confirm your suspicions. As far as problems with your computer, never use an online service, it’s too risky. There are many places locally in your town or city that can repair a computer.

      1. Joseph Bessent. Sr.

        We had a call from an IRS agent a few years ago about our tax return.
        He had all the information from our tax return including our S.S. numbers and tax filing info.
        He gave us his badge number and return phone number and we told him we would not confirm any tax info to him and hung up the phone on him.
        He called right back and said if we had any concern about the legitimacy of his call we could call him back at the IRS number he had given us.
        We told him that we did not trust him on the call and would not return his call in any case, if the IRS had questions about our tax return they could send us a letter so we could come to an IRS office to go over any issues and hung up once again.
        He was from the IRS and sent us a letter that we were being Audited and what info we needed to bring to the Audit and where to reports and the time to be there.
        This was not a Scam and the IRS does contact taxpayers by phone about tax issues contrary to what you have heard.

    2. I get a call from those Indian accent scammers at least once a month. I can hardly understand them because of the accent. I have been getting these calls for probably 4 years. I have never fallen for their scam. I have screamed at them. I have cussed at them and they will cuss right back at me. Last week when I got another call from them and they started their speech about monitoring my computer and infections, blah, blah, blah, I said, “Can I ask you a question first?” “Does your Mother know what you do for a living? Does she know that your are scamming people?” Of course he said he was not a scammer. I then said, calmly “Can you do me a favor? Can you and all your other foreign accent speaking scammers take my name off your calling list because you are just wasting my time and yours.” He hung up, but I am pretty sure I will be getting more calls as least once a month. It never stops. I also get calls from the FAKE IRS saying I owe them $5000. from a mistake made on my taxes and if I don’t pay, officers will be at my door in the next hour to take me to jail for 6 months. I just tell them to come on. I have had my bag packed and sitting by the front door waiting for them since they starting calling me about that 2 years ago. SCAMMERS!!!

    3. I am 90 years young and was in IP for 32 years. The last 5 years have took a toll on my brain.
      My wife was very ill during those years and as a consequence of it, I let myself get scammed by the windows scam artist from Pakistan or India. Unfortunately, my wife died on 2/20/2015, the con artists called again while I was under stress from my wife's illness and death. I explained to them that I didn't want to talk. They kept calling back many times. Then I started thinking again and realized that I had been previously been scammed. I received a call 7/19/2015 from windows again, but just hung up on him. Called himself Mac. So see, we all can be had if we are not at our best.

    4. I have had several experiences with companies hired by Microsoft (maybe) because of all the error notices I had received and were asked to report to Microsoft. The two companies I recall were Indian. The first showed me a list of the error messages I had sent. I gave them access to the computer and they proceeded to do the fix. I did pay for a year and paid by credit card. This was a Windows XP operating system and the computer worked well after the repair. The second time was when I was starting to join Netflix and could not see it on my television. Netflix had a number to call and they did find something called a “root” whatever which some website had installed on my computer and would allow the installer to access my computer and find passwords to my financial accounts. This really scared me and later I changed the passwords. After that was completed, a patient Indian worked with me to connect Netflix to my television. The whole process must have taken at least 3 hours! Even though I have PCmatic, I signed up for a year with them. Everything appears legitimate. They put a shortcut on my computer to contact them with any problem at anytime which I haven’t used yet. This company’s name is Orlate inc. I did receive a call while I was working on my yard and the voice was Indian telling me there was a problem with my computer which could have been the first company. I recall that company had a lot of trouble communicating over the phone and it may have been Skype or something like it. When they called back it was much better. Since I was outside working and it was hard to understand the accent, I got rid of the call. I had already subscribed to PCmatic and had no interest but I believe it was all legit. Hearing about all the dangers out there involving computers makes me yearn for the time they didn’t exist and one paid one’s bills by mail. The digital age has brought a lot of wonderful things but a lot of evil as well.

    5. Got a call on my home phone, which I noticed was a local ID call, yet "Robert" on the phone had a very Indian accent and poor English [This was not a local caller!]. He stated that he was part of a company (cant remember name) that handled Windows Update download problems in personal computers for Microsoft. He said that my computer was not updating correctly, that they had received the report, and wanted me to get online and go to a website…"www.fixme… something or other. I was immediately suspicious and did not take down the info. or go to the website they wanted me to visit (I should have taken it down to share here..sorry!) I know that there are website scams out there where the website can look legit. In any case, I told them I didn't feel comfortable with following their directions and that I would check my Windows Update myself…….BE CAREFUL OUT THERE!

    6. received a call from what he claimed was `microsoft warning team`? claiming I had numerous viruses and warning errors on my p.c. was asked to type into the search box.`eventtwr` then go to `event viewer` observe all the faults to which I agreed I could see for myself on the screen, he then said he would connect me to a `microsoft technician` who who rectify all the errors and warnings but this wasn't help at all as it was soon revealed that to do this for me would involve a `so called one off payment` that's when I explained that I'm unemployed and have no financial means to do this! upon that he said `oh we can't help you then` and he was the one who actually ended the call by him putting the phone down on me!

    7. if you get a call from Microsoft telling you your computer has been hacked, don't fall for it, its a scam. they gave me three choices for protection. 3 yrs 189.00 6 yrs 249.00, and lifetime 389.00. I said I cant pay that right now, and they insisted, or they would seize my computer and I couldn't have internet for life. I told asked them, how do I know you are who you say you are. and they gave up, they said something about my mothers vagina and started laughing. they guided me thru a Microsoft website, they almost had me.

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