Don't Fall for the Microsoft Windows Tech Support Scam

by JoHarrington

There's recently been a resurgence in a very old cold-calling computer scam, designed to part you from your life savings. Hang up on fake Microsoft Tech Support phone calls.

I'll admit, mine probably wasn't the world's most graceful reaction.

"Hello, I'm Sharon, I'm calling you today from Microsoft."

"Pardon?" I asked, glee growing.

"My name is Sharon. I'm calling about your Windows computer..."

I couldn't help it. The laughter poured out of me. "Oh my God! I've never had the Windows Phone Scam before! Oh do go on! Please!"

Brrrrrrrrrrr. 'Sharon' had hung up the telephone. But that was me. I was extremely well informed. Are you?

What is the Microsoft Telephone Scam?

Remotely based con artists call you on your phone. Their aim is to trick you into giving them access to your computer, and your bank account.

Image: Con Artist'Sharon' was not calling from Microsoft.  Judging by her accent, she was probably phoning me from India. That is the heartland of this phone-based computer scam.

'Sharon' is a con artist. In the old days, people like her would have to knock on your door or waylay you in the street, in order to confidence trick you into giving them access to your bank account.

These days, they can do it remotely via your PC.

But first these con men and women need you to give them permission to log onto your computer, then follow your trail all the way to your bank. That is where the phone call comes in.

Had I let 'Sharon' get up to speed, she would have tried to convince me that there was a problem with my PC. Perhaps the Microsoft team had been alerted that some criminal was trying to hack me, or I'd inadvertently downloaded a virus, during my usual internet browsing.

It doesn't matter what the supposed issue is. The aim of the game is to make me think that my computer is somehow posing a danger to myself or the whole of the World Wide Web.

But the Microsoft Tech Support team cares about me! So they will fix it!  All I need to do is follow these simple instructions...

What that would do is allow the people on the end of your phone the ability to remotely control your computer. They could use that to farm information with which to target your friends and family, or add e-mail addresses to spam lists.

The main goal, of course, is to add in a keylogger - a way of compromising your computer, so that it records everything you do using your keyboard (and/or mouse) - then next time you visit your internet banking, bam! They have you.

Now they can empty your bank accounts with impunity.

They'll probably even bill you beforehand for their services, in order to force you to quickly log into your bank account. No con artist likes to be kept waiting.

Microsoft's Tech Support Will NOT Cold Call You

The Microsoft Windows Telephone Scam has been going around for years. Yet there are still people who fall for it. If there weren't, then it wouldn't be worth maintaining the scam.

The real life Windows tech support team have made this statement: 'Neither Microsoft nor our partners make unsolicited phone calls (also known as cold calls) to charge you for computer security or software fixes.'

You can read their advice here: Avoiding Tech Support Phone Scams.

What to do If Called by a Windows Phone Scammer

You're under no compulsion to give them the time of day. React however you ordinarily would with a criminal trying to rob you.

Hang up. That's the most appropriate response and you won't get into trouble for doing it. Your number is just on a database. The cyber-criminal picked it off and is just trying their luck.

Or laugh in their faces - as I did - which will cause them to hang up.  It's no good them proceeding, if you've made it clear that you're aware of the scam.

It's down to the major geeks of this world to have fun with the Microsoft Phone Scam con artists, as happened when one of them accidentally picked on Jerome Segura. He is a senior security researcher from the anti-virus software company MalwareBytes!

Who better - from our point of view - to receive a computer scam cold call? Mr Segura even had computers set up before him ready to test viruses upon. It's his job to discover what they do, in order to find a remedy on behalf of us all.

And he played along with the Microsoft Tech Support phone scam.  Let the hilarity ensue - enjoy!

Support Call Scammer versus Malwarebytes Geek!

I really don't know how Jerome Segura kept from giggling throughout this call. I didn't get past the first 'hello' on mine without laughing aloud!
I do recommend Malwarebytes. It's the anti-virus program that I use myself!
Updated: 03/16/2014, JoHarrington
Thank you! Would you like to post a comment now?


JoHarrington on 03/14/2014

I would be absolutely honoured if you would do that.

They call you daily? Wow! You think they'd have learned to take you off their call list by now.

Mike Gackowski on 03/14/2014

They call me daily. I would like to post this to Facebook each time they call me. Do you think that this is a good idea? I will gladly do that if you make it easy for me.

JoHarrington on 03/05/2014

I do my best. :)

Mira on 03/05/2014

Cool :)

JoHarrington on 03/05/2014

Yes, they're highly knowledgeable about computing systems, so they can sound very convincing.

I've had two of my older family and friends receive calls. Both fortunately knew not to touch anything regarding their computers without running it by me. Even if 'Microsoft' call. My uncle asked the Tech team to call me instead. (They didn't then.)

My Mum's friend did start allowing them access, but then got cold feet and asked them to call back in five minutes. She called me in the interim, so was prepared for them when they DID call back. She gave them what for, before they hung up on them, and I sorted her computer out.

Mira on 03/05/2014

I listened to the 3 minutes of the video. It's unbelievable how well-trained they are.
The fact that she called the Malwarebytes guy was absolutely hilarious. He played along so well :-)

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