The Ripoff Alert is a new series appearing once each week on Fridays. It alerts you to the latest scams and ripoffs trying to get between you and your money, and gives you information you need to stay safe.
Microsoft Tech Support Scam
How do you know if your computer really is vulnerable?
Fraudsters are looking up publicly available names and phone numbers and calling people, claiming to be from Microsoft Tech Support or Windows Helpdesk. They try to convince you that unless you give them access to your laptop or PC, your computer is at risk of crashing or getting a virus.
Their tactics vary. Some try to gain remote access to your machine, while others ask you to install malicious software that will capture your usernames and passwords. After they’ve “fixed” the issue, they send you a bill for hundreds of dollars. There have been a few unsuspecting victims who have lost over $1,000 in this scam.
Others will try to get your credit card information out of you over the phone and charge you for phony services. Still others send you to a fake website and ask you to enter your credit card information there.
You might think the caller is legitimate because he’s able to correctly guess which operating system you are using. In reality, this isn’t too hard because there are only a few mainstream operating systems out there.
All of this isn’t Microsoft’s fault. Microsoft says on their website they will never call you and ask for money to fix a computer problem. They say it in bold type: Do not trust unsolicited calls.
Here’s what you need to know to protect yourself. Never give a third party control of your computer unless you can confirm they’re from a legitimate tech support organization you have reached out to. Again, don’t trust an unsolicited caller who claims he will solve your computer problems.
Also, don’t buy any software or services from anyone who claims to be from a helpdesk, tech support or service center.
If you suspect your PC is infected by a virus or malware, download and run free software from Avast and MalwareBytes. Spybot Search & Destroy is also an excellent tool. For the best protection, make sure to keep these up to date.