Several of our clients have received a call from scam artists trying to access their computers. The callers usually call from a blocked or anonymous number and claim to be from Microsoft, or another company like MSN. There are variations of this scam including:
- We have received notification that someone is trying to access (hack/attack) your computer right now
- We have received notification that your computer has a virus and is causing problems.
The scammer will walk you through running a program that will display an error. They might tell you to run a program that doesn’t exist, and when windows displays an error they will tell you that that is the error that they are seeing. Or they will have you view the Windows Event Log. Inside the Event Log it is normal to have listings with a red X next to them. Every Windows computer will have at least one error like this. The caller will say that this is the error.
The goal of the scammers varies depending on who is actually calling. Sometimes they want to sell you an overpriced, useless piece of “security” software. The software they sell looks like security software, but actually does nothing. Other times they might try and steal your login information to your email and bank. Also, they might request you to download and install a program that will allow them to connect to your computer whenever they want. They may also try to delete files which can make your computer unusable.
If you receive a phone call that is from someone claiming to be from a company, and wants to help you resolve an issue, please hang up and don’t talk to them. The scammers are good at confusing the people the call. Most companies will not contact you about an issue you might have, unless you initiate contact first.
If you have already received this phone call and followed their instructions, I would encourage you to contact us to help you. We can help you by examining your computer for traces of their software. If you purchased something from the scammers, you should watch your bank account or credit card statement for fraudulent activity and report it as soon as you notice it. Also, after you have your computer has been examined by a professional, you should probably change passwords to your online services to ensure that the scammers are locked out of your accounts.
For more information from Microsoft you can visit http://www.microsoft.com/security/online-privacy/avoid-phone-scams.aspx. If you are very interested, you can watch a video of the scam in action.