I got a call from Microsoft and allowed them access to my computer. What do I do now?

A very common scam has people supposedly from Microsoft or your ISP or other authorities calling to help you with computer problems. Don't fall for it.

//

A family member got scammed by a telephone call from someone saying that they were from Microsoft, calling because of PC error reports. Unfortunately, remote access was given. What should be done to prevent further compromise of the PC data? Help!

Note: MS scanner and a Norton scan were done and showed no problems. Remote access software files were removed manually from PC. Could the scammer again access the PC data? Data is backed up to the external drive (not plugged in at the time of the scam). Can the same files/data be safely loaded on to a new HD/computer?

As you point out, it’s a scam. Microsoft doesn’t call people because of errors on their computers. Neither do ISPs, security companies, or pretty much anyone else who might have some role of internet authority.

To quote Admiral Akbar: “It’s a trap!”

In recent years (yes, years) I’ve been getting lots of reports of this scam and its variants. Fortunately, many people are rightfully suspicious and cut it off before it goes too far.

Unfortunately, your family member having fallen for the scam puts you in a difficult and dangerous position.

To start with, let’s not hook up that external hard drive just yet.

The Scam

The scam is very simple: someone calls you claiming to be from Microsoft or your ISP or your anti-malware provider, or some other authoritative company. Of course, they are not. Microsoft, your ISP or any of the other companies these scammers claim to be from are not involved in any way.

They claim that they’ve detected that your computer is causing many errors on the internet or that there are “problems with your account”. To prove that there’s something wrong, they ask if your computer has been crashing recently. Or they have you open up the event viewer and point out the many, many errors listed there.

And, of course, they can fix it for you.

The scammer asks you to allow them to access your computer. Typically that means they have you connect to a remote access site, such as logmein.com so you can give them access to your computer. Important: Sites like logmein.com and other remote-access services are not involved in the scam. They’re just web services that the scammer uses as a vehicle for accessing your machine.

This then leads to the scam’s hook. While accessing your machine several things may happen:

  • The scammer installs malware.
  • The scammer “discovers” that in order to fix your (non existent) problem you’ll need to purchase something and at this point, they ask for your payment information.
  • You’re quoted a high price for this “service”.
  • Your payment information may be used not only for that quoted fee, but for other purchases you haven’t authorized.

In the end you’re either left with a malware-laden machine (that won’t be “fixed”, by the way), bogus charges on your credit card, or both.

It’s a classic scam.

It's A Trap!!!What about those EventViewer messages?

EventViewer is a mess. Or, rather, the information that is logged by applications in the system and displayed by EventViewer is a mess.

It’s highly technical, often incomprehensible, and honestly really only useful to experienced technicians and software developers.

And here’s the kicker: errors and warnings are expected in EventViewer. It’s completely normal to have lots of red stop signs and yellow warning signs in the list of events displayed by EventViewer.

Put another way, seeing errors and warnings in EventViewer does not mean that there is anything wrong with your system.

Don’t believe anyone who calls you up and tells you different. They’re wrong; and using EventViewer to misguide you is a classic sign that someone is trying to scam you.

Avoiding the scam

Classic scam-avoidance 101: never completely trust someone who you don’t know who calls you.

Listen to them, if you like. Ask questions, if you feel so motivated, but never ever give them access to your PC and never ever give them your payment information.

Let them know that you’ll have your local tech look into it (even if you don’t have one).

Once it becomes clear that you’re not going to fall for the trap, it’s very likely that you’ll get hung up on, or that the caller may even become abusive. At that point, you can hang up on them.

If you’re concerned that there is a real problem, do the research yourself, or contact the technical resources that you trust and ask them about it.

Chances are there’s nothing to see here.

Recovering from the scam

If you handed over payment information, you’ve just given that information to a complete stranger. Immediately contact your credit card issuer or other payment provider and put them on fraud alert.

If you allowed the scammer access to your machine … well, things get ugly.

The short answer is that you have no idea what they did. If you saw them install software in the guise of tools to help repair your system, it’s very possible that software’s really a bundle of malware that’s now residing on your machine.

Even if you didn’t see them download something, they still could have placed malware on your machine.

You just don’t know.

And there’s no way to prove that they didn’t.

There are two approaches at this point:

  • Assume the worst. Revert to a system image backup taken before the access was granted. If you don’t have such a backup, then backup your data, reformat, and reinstall Windows. This is the only way to know that whatever the scammer might have left on your machine is truly gone.
  • Hope for the best. Run up-to-date anti-virus and anti-spyware tools, making sure that each is running with an up-to-date database. I’d be tempted to scan with an additional tool or two; I would specifically recommend a scan with MalwareBytes Anti-Malware, which seems to catch a lot of the more aggressive malware. I’d be tempted also to try the process outlined here, as well as Windows Defender Offline. And then I’d hope that whatever may have been left was caught.

It’s a scam

This appears to be a common scam right now and the best defense, as you can guess, is to not fall for it in the first place.

If you do, then the next best thing is to make sure that you have regular system backups that you can revert to.

And if you walk away remembering just one thing, remember this:

They won’t call you.

If “they” do, be very, very suspicious.

This is an update to an article originally posted : July 4, 2011
Posted: July 21, 2014 In: Malware
SHARE:
  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • Share on Google+

There are 56 comments:

  1. Alan Reply

    I was subjected to this scam over a year ago now and immediately, following advice from sites like this, recognised it for what it was. Nevertheless, I allowed the “person from Microsoft” to carry on digging the hole deeper until it came to the point where she told me how I should “give Microsoft colleagues control of my computer” whereupon I asked for her telephone number, just for my peace of mind and so I could check it out with Trading Standards (a UK public organisation set up to protect people from all kinds of illegal and dodgy practises) whereupon she started to bluster, offer excuses and finally hung up.
    A friend of mine with the same ISP contacted me shortly afterwards to say that she had received a similar contact that had so alarmed her that, despite not giving access to her computer, had told them to push off and then changed all her internet banking passwords and on-line security.
    I still receive these calls and adopt one of the following tactics:
    1) I know this is a scam and I am now about to report this call to Trading Standards or the Police or both.
    2) That’s interesting I am a Mac user!
    3) “Just a minute there’s someone at the door….” and return sometime later when they have got fed up of waiting.
    4) Sorry I don’t have any of those new fangled computer thingys!
    5) Just immediately hang up.
    One always works.

  2. Mike Reply

    I have had this at least twice. The last time I told the idiot on the line that there wasnt anything in the errors reports screen ” its empty, what had you done to it ?, return this as it was, oh my god, get the police”. The bloke at the other end was so startled he actually said sorry, I then threatened him, his company, his dog walker and gardener. He was in histerics at the other end saying it wasnt his fault. In the end I simply said “OK, bye” and put the phone down. Yes, it was cruel but I had a blast !

  3. Nils Torben Reply

    I have a more general point about FORMATTING AND REINSTALLING. I once had done so (as mostl windows users unfortunately need to now and then), and after reinstalling, Windows exposed some information that had been present in the old system but not given to the new one (I don’t remember what is was, may be unimportant, some setting or foldername), but how could Windows know? The only explanation is that the formatting consists only in making the files unaccessible, not deleting them effectively. If that is what you want, I recommend a program like Eraser, free and easy to find, that will overwrite all data you wish with random digits. It will take some time, but you can be rather sure that the old data are gone – am I right?

  4. Mike Reply

    It’s been so long since I’ve done any reformatting that I’m rusty on my information. I mean, I’m talking about the old DOS days. But whether DOS or Windows, formatting isn’t just formatting. There’s low-level format and high-level format, high-level being primarily the sector and cluster structure on an already basic-formatted machine. Below that, there is also the partitioning which, if you’re going to clean the slate and start over, wouldn’t be a bad idea to include. And even high-level formatting consists of two types; Quick Format and Full Format. Quick Format (as its name implies) is faster, but it only really formats the allocation table. The rest of the drive is untouched and, although marked available for use and over-writing, isn’t truly empty. The directory won’t show the files from a previous life, but an attempt to read those sectors CAN possibly bring them back to life inadvertently. When re-formatting, if nothing else, ALWAYS do a Full Format even though it takes longer.

  5. Bill Reply

    Microsoft does call. I have had five calls from Microsoft Personnel over the years. Two were out of the blue but were from the individuals in India who had responded to the Trouble Reports I had submitted. Three others were the result of ongoing update issues with OneCare and MSE software that I had also Beta tested.

  6. Mark J Reply

    @Bill
    Those were probably not Microsoft reps, but most likely the same kind of scammers mentioned in the article. I’ve Beta tested MS software and the registration never asked for a phone number.

  7. sally w Reply

    I have had phone calls off Microsoft, but never cold calls, it has always been as a result of a specific problem with my computer.

  8. Eliza Reply

    If you receive a call from ‘Microsoft’ or another scammer, tell them you have a very slow computer, takes 10 minutes to boot, runs windows 95, has a 33k dial-up modem. They’ll suggest that’s not a problem, they’re happy to wait and will call you on your mobile phone – but you don’t have one! They’ll hang up quick, and you’ll have had a bit of fun!

  9. Gwyn Reply

    “If you don’t have such a backup, then backup your data, reformat, and reinstall Windows.”
    Won’t the scammers have put malware in your data by then, and you will be transferring dirty data on to your external drive (or DVDs)?

  10. Mark J Reply

    @Gwyn
    It is rare that a data file would contain a virus. Almost all viruses reside in executable files with .exe, .com., .dll, .scr and others which usually reside in the Program Files or Windows Folder or some other non Documents folder. While it is possible for an MS Office or other file to contain a macro virus, this isn’t a method that is used by this kind of scammer as they install programs that work quietly in the background. A Macro virus has to be executed by the user opening the infected file, in which case MS Office informs you that the file has a macro. If you aren’t sure it should contain a macro (macros, themselves, can be useful if you write them yourself or get it from a trusted source) then click on disable macro.

  11. Duane Ferguson Reply

    I tell them they must be mistaken. I run a Mac (OS X), and that Macs just don’t get viruses. Then I hang up… My primary machine runs Win 7, and yes, Macs do get viruses. I just like to hear that three seconds of silence while they work out what to do next.

  12. Nick Reply

    Leo, you are correct to point out that “Sites like logmein.com, ammyy.com, and perhaps other remote-access services used for this are not involved in the scam. They’re just web services that the scammer happens to use and nothing more.”

    However in my opinion it would nevertheless be a very kind thing for these sites to display a very prominent warning to anyone encountering their site that the possibility of it being misused by scammers is a very real possibility and providing basic precautions to guard against that. Of course, they may already do that, I don’t know as I’ve never used them, but if not then perhaps they should be asked to do so – as a public service.

    I’m kinda surprised we’re not hearing more from those companies. These scams are definitely making these legitimate companies look bad by association

    Leo
    14-Jul-2011

  13. jenny Reply

    A very timely article. I work for an ISP in Australia and have lost count of the number of customers who’ve contacted me about these hoax calls. Thankfully a lot of these have some sense that things aren’t right and contact either us or their computer tech before they allow themselves to be conned, but even in my small sample group, there are several who have gone the whole way & given their credit card details to the scammer. Multiply that by all the people being called and these con merchants must be still making a good living. All this despite the scams having been widely reported on TV and in the newspaper in this country. I’ll be sending a link to your very informative article to anybody who contacts me again about this Leo.

  14. Charley McCracken Reply

    These creeps are ‘selling’ Windows 7 Total Security under the name of Activebroom 3. Don’t look for them on Google because you’ll be sent a cookie that if opened starts you on the road to ugliness. They have a small shield icon the same as Microsofts Security Essentials. There may be others at the same game. They misrepresent themselves as Microsoft in a very subtle way. The credit card companies won’t do anything about these guys when you identify them to them which I found very responsible on their part – if responsibility can indeed be expected of credit card companies. I suggested they kill their credit card account but they’re protected by privacy legislation and all the rest of the muck we’ve construed to protect criminals and expose the public. These scams can proliferate because authorities are generally peopled by the meek of the Earth and say they can do nothing. Well, we all wanted less government, so we’ve got it – zero government, often. The only way to discourage them is to have handy a football referee’s whistle to squeal into the phone. If you argue with them, they get abusive. When I sorted them out on one occasion, they blitzed me all day with phone calls they never answered. As soon as I’d put the phone down, they wait fifteen minutes and go again. My techo says they’re Russian, but all the callers have sounded Asian to me. Sort of reminds you how low we can go as a species.

  15. Cheryl Mckeough Reply

    I received a call from someone who didnt speak english very well saying microsoft was asking them to call me to remove a virus i was suspicious but did what he told me until the point where he told me to look for 7 digits take one digit out and type in 6 digits in a blank box i didnt understand told him i had to write down the numbers then told him i have an emergency and hung up the phone. Is my computer at risk now?

    I can’t tell from the information provided. Sorry.

    Leo
    23-Jul-2011

  16. Mike Reply

    I today got “the” phone. My wife picked up the phone and then gave it to me. Sure enough it was the “tech” telling me to look at my PC. Now you must know that I have been waiting for this call for months and I had devised a plan. I did waht was asked i.e. Start > Run > and then type eventvwr and OK. Sure enough it opens the event viewer, which I am totally aware of. The “tech” tells me to double click Applications which I do. He then proceeds with the guff about all the files in the right hand window are the ones affected by the virus. Hmmm , I tell him there are no files. “did you doubleclick applications” yes I tell him, but there are no files ( they were there of course ! but then I tell lies ). The tech starts to panic and he then tells me I cannot see them because to the virus. “So what have you done with my files ?” I ask “me, nothing !! ( he is starting to stammer now ). ” I need my files for my business what have you done ?, you come on the phone telling me you are from Microsoft and I have a virus, you tell me to type something in the run box and now my files have gone, what am I gonna do ?, oh god my business, my life is ruinned. Let me run Norton 360″ all the time this bloke is jabbering away. I tell him norton 360 says ” a man will phone you and he will tell you that you have a virus and if you give him lots of money he will cure it” silence…… then ” ah that a message the virus is saying to fool you ” I say in a normal voice, “you just aint getting this are you? let me speak with your supervisor. Now all I can hear is many people shouting, at this point I cannot keep up the show. My wife is by my side laughing. I had the best time for a long time. I wasted 15 minutes on this but it was worth it just to here the mans voice change. Probably won’t stop them but, hey, it gave me a great feeling to get one over on them for a change. Now if everyone who reads this remembers what to do… imagine what would happen !!!

  17. Al Reply

    I spoke to two gentlemen on the phone (they called) from NY, India. #1 man was the tech. the other was the supervisor. The tech. had me hold down the microsoft key and then the R key. I recieved the log in window. he had me enter eventvwr then enter. I recvd a new window called event viewer (local) then u click on custom views. on the screen window click on admin. events then your in. You will see your error messages & warnings. These gentlemens claimed that they could clean my pc of all these errors for a grand total of $189.00. If you go back to the file on the same page and u click on the file you get the delete for all those error messages, on the center of the page. for free. So don’t fall for this SCAM.

  18. Pnoon Reply

    We have gotten several calls from {phone number removed}, mostly hang ups. I reported them to the National Do Not Call Registry. This morning they called again, and a woman I could barely understand said I had a “hidden infection” on my computer and would I turn it on so she could take a look. After getting nowhere with her, I asked to speak to her supervisor to get some answers. The guy, whose English wasn’t much better, said that he was working with Microsoft to fix infected computers. He said he was from Xion Technologies. I asked which of my PCs was infected, he just kept insisting that I chose a PC and turn it on so he could “look.” I asked several times for a call back number, he danced around it then finally said he couldn’t provide that info “right now.” While I had him on the line, I looked up Xion Tech and sought out answers from Microsoft. What I found was: Microsoft does not make unsolicited phone calls to help you fix your computer.

  19. Nfield Reply

    I received a call today from a man who spoke very broken english telling me my computer was sending messages to them that it was infected with malware. I asked him which computer, since I have 4 and he went on to try to tell me it was the one I use the most, which I told him was an apple computer. He kept on and on until I asked to speak to a supervisor who I could understand, who by the way wasn’t much better at english. They tried to convince me to turn on my computer, and I kept telling them I was at work. They offered to call me back when I got home. I asked for the name of the company and tried to verify that they were
    under contract to Microsoft. They then tried to convince me that because the warranty had expired on my computer that was the reason it was infected. I again asked for the company name and he told me Xion Technology, I googled it and then told the guy that I was looking them up and it appeared they were a fraud . I kept asking him what are you trying to sell me? What are you phishing for? He got very upset with me and proceeded to tell me to “Go to Hell” (his ecaxt words)
    and hung up on me

  20. Sharanjit kaur Reply

    Hi Leo i have so many warning or errors in event viewer what i can do for removing them from my computer? plz send me reply ASAP.

  21. MFulmer Reply

    I just got off the phone with these characters. I kept them on the phone for as long as I could (about 10-15 minutes). I asked several questions – the name of the company (they told me Xion Technology – like above), their phone number, the CEO of the company,… Of course they didn’t answer, just kept on telling me that they were under contract of Microsoft and that my computer has been sending error messages to them for a long time and I had severe problems. I told them (spoke to a “tech” and “supervisor” as described above) that I think they are a scam. They finally told me that the call was over.

  22. Katrina Reply

    I’ve gottent the same kind of calls in broken english. They called me 3 times yesterday and the 2nd call I asked who they worked for and the response was “your dad” and many expletives followed from him as I guess he was hoping to finally SCAM someone. They did call back 2 hours later with a silence on their end and I told them that the call was being traced and further calls would be traced as well. We’ll see how today goes….

  23. Lizz Reply

    Got the same call… broken English and all… kept asking if they were really from Microsoft… all they could tell me was yes… i asked for confirmation that they were and they gave me a number to a supervisor… i talked to him and he hung up. it was then that i looked online and found it was a scam… i IMMEDIATELY called The Federal Trade Commission ( http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/telemarketing/tel19.shtm ) and reported them. After that i called Microsoft and warned them about the scammers, I was not surprised to hear that they had received similar calls warning them about the scam.

  24. sam Reply

    i got scammed into i gave access to my husband computer and i dont know what they left on my computer or what info they got but im worried i deleted the file exe. and this other one ran a scan but cant backup my files !!! im in need of desparate help!!!!

  25. Santa Reply

    I would really love to have some answers on following issue !

    It is about company “Tee Support”, or at least they claim they are company, which offers exactly the same “service” as those scammers do by phone. They have a website or blog or both, and they are a bit pushy when they try to make you visit their website or when they explaining themselves on forums or where and when they find people talking about them and accusing them to be scammers (e.g. WOT Web Of Trust, Firefox Add-On).
    Problem is that I couldn’t find anywhere some reliable informations on these people. Except on WOT service, which is pretty reliable but not exactly professional (more like ordinary people experience), I was unable to get some trustworthy info from professionals.

  26. Mark J Reply

    @Santa
    I’m not familiar with Tee Support, but I always mistrust pushy sales people and supposed tech support companies. WOT can have some false positives, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. I personally would never give access to my computer to a person I didn’t know, or I didn’t contact through a website I absolutely knew to be reputable. For example the support website from a major hardware or software company that I personally typed in the URL to access. I’ve done remote support for people and I know the potential for danger.

  27. Jing Reply

    I allowed them to access my computer for about 10 minutes. They showed me a website and also the Wikipedia. The told me to buy their software. I terminated the remote connection immediately, but i didn’t know what he had put inside my computer… I’m so scared right now….

  28. Kandi Reply

    i got it too I told them i had my computer fixed and hanged up on them. They told they could fix it for 70.00 and I told them i don’t have the money which is ture and I also hanged up on them that didn’t work they called back. Today I told them to quit calling me that i got it fixed. I wonder how they get our name and number.

  29. Robert Harden Reply

    I have been recieving calls from people claming to either work for z tech or Cyber wizard claiming to have seen many errors on my computer coming across the internet I played along to see what they wanted when they told me to type allowing them remote access I knew,I then asked them how it felt to be a lying thief and a total low life.I recieved no reply.I then called them M F’s still no reply. Their english was not that good [middle eastern accents on all of them] I told them if I could find them I would shoot them.I have been through this same senario about 6 times and they still continue to call.

  30. Maria Reply

    Unfortunately I fell for the Microsoft scam, the one where the indian people call you and tell you the errors and warnings are all viruses, well needless to say I wish I would have caught on earlier but I cancelled my debit card, told the bank to be on alert, restored my laptop to factory settings, and got rid of the old laptop and purchased a new one. These a**holes need to be stopped they are taking advantage of people like me who don’t know about this stuff, well Im here to tell you I will make this scam known to any body and everyone I come in contact with and I will be like a dog with a bone making sure that no one I know falls for this shit.

  31. Kelly Nunnally Reply

    This just happened to me recently. I had to upload a disc for class and the software did not come with the proper pin to finish the upload so “I” called microsoft and they manually went through my computer the upload was taking to long and they said that I had numerous amount of errors on my computer and suggested that I take my system to Best Buy and have it fixed for a couple hundred I explained to them that I didn’t have that type of money at the moment & I would get ahold of my school to see if they would beable to help me with the problem. Well after being on the phone with a Microsoft rep I tried getting back online and was unable to. I was sooooooo mad. I knew that they were the reason my computer had crashed. I called and called there ofices speaking with supervisor after supervisor. Come to find out when you call Microsoft you are calling and speaking to reps that live in India or other countries. I demanded to speak with a manager they gave me the run around and refused to give me any information about contacting a higher authority at head quarters. I am so glad to read that I was not the only one to go through this. I am also glad that I have a relative that knows about computers and Iwas able to get the problem fixed free of charge. Still my computer is not the same and I can not here anything coming out like it was when I first got it. There should definitley be some type of law or restriction on this issue. The only advice that I would give when speaking with a rep from Microsoft would be to write down everything there name time and date of the call and never allow them access to your computer. Because honestly you never really know what they are really doing. Never again. This should be addressed as a serious issue and presented in a law suit. Seriously include me in. I was behind in school work for 2 weeks causing my grades to drop. Unbelievable.

    If you called Microsoft (and you’re certain that the number you called is, indeed, Microsoft), then that’s a different scenario than the scam outlined in this article.

    Leo
    15-Dec-2012

  32. Mary Reply

    This recently happen to a family member, what I would like to know is if the access granted via the ID they directed them to give will also grant them future access. Or is the ID temporary?
    Is there anyway to know if they copied information from their computer?

    It’s hard to say. The actual connection technology they use initially probably does not last, but if they install malware while they have access they could easily install permanent backdoors.

    Leo
    23-Dec-2012
  33. Chris Reply

    Like an idiot I fell for it, would doing a system restore erase any malware or virus installed?

  34. Bob Bowman Reply

    I had one of these calls about 8 weeks ago, and decided to toy with them. I feigned ignorance and dismay and begged them to help me. They asked me to reboot, I lied and told them I did but kept getting a blue screen. I even asked them to send a technician to my house.They gave up very quickly.

  35. Steward Reply

    ok, It’s excited to get to know you, Leo. I think I gonna love to visit your website for something useful and interesting later on.

    I didn’t get a call from “Microsoft” like Alan or Mike, but I indeed had an experience with some tech support team online a couple of weeks ago. It happened to be {company name deleted}, so just try to answer Santa’s concern and share my own experience with him. Lol

    My computer was infected by a virus named fbi with a locked screen constantly. My antivirus didn’t work, so I tried to find someone to help me. Finally got some info via google and picked {company name deleted} online service. Actually I can not express how nervous I was to worry about my computer and my money at that moment, though it was just about $70 bucks. They assisted me via the live chat and got access to my computer through a remote tool called Team Viewer after my permission. They needed my random id and pw in order to connect to my computer and I could end the remote control if I wanted. LOL, I did try to prove this to ensure my security. Anyway, they fixed my computer and got that virus removed eventually. I personally consider this support to be a good one. They would not call me but have a toll free number for me to call them. Just for your reference. Of course, we should take it seriously when trying to contact something or someone unfamiliar for the first time.

  36. Dave Reply

    i fell for this too…when i wouldnt buy a “licence” they put a lock on my desk top, not i cant get on..any thoughts are fixes?..thank you

  37. Pam Ogden Reply

    Got this type of call today I was at work so I told the guy I would be home later. I was smart enough to ask if they had a number for me to call back when I got home and that’s when he started acting weird he said no they had my number and he would call me. I came home looked it up and that’s when I got your site and you confirmed what I already knew. Thanks so much.

  38. Tony Reply

    I get calls like this so many times and i just blow them off usually i mention something more technical that the person has no idea about and they just hang up.

  39. Kathy Reply

    my aging parents got tricked into this a year ago … and paid over a hundred dollars for the “software update” … i’m glad they told me the day after it happened so we were able to see the charge (not to Microsoft but to a Western Union in India) and cancel their credit card and update/run Norton and do a few hours’ worth of system cleanup. yeesh.

  40. Robert Reply

    I know a friend who is not very tech savvy and fell for the scam and ended up paying them, when her husband found out he was pissed!
    They have called me at least six times now and I tell them “That’s funny I don’t even have a computer” which causes them to hangup without saying a word. I’m hoping they call again because I’m going to tell them we’ve been waiting for you to call the FBI is tracking this number so expect a visit from them soon!

  41. jkieran Reply

    I know this old XP machine so well that the first time we got the call from these scammers I knew there was nothing wrong with my computer. I kept on insisting all was well. I was not aware of this scam at first. I now wind them up when they call by acting stupid. We have had 5 or 6 calls over the years. I also posted on an official Microsoft site of my experience with these cowboys and sometimes cowgirls.

  42. Glen Reply

    this is where i think Microsoft screwed up by eliminating installation disks. if you were attacked a
    person could just do a clean re-install. problem solved. without the disk we have to go through
    hell and high water to fix it.

  43. Bob Reply

    Saw a discussion like this on another forum. The best response was: I had my neighbor check my computer just yesterday. He is a Windows expert. His name is Bill Gates.

  44. Tom R. Reply

    I have never once got a call like this. Ever. I guess these scammers know a non-sucker when they see one.

  45. Jon J. Reply

    Hey people! Stop answering phone calls from people you don’t know. That is what caller-id and voice mail are for. If you don’t have both, then get them. If you don’t recognize the number calling, don’t answer… if it’s important, they will leave you a message. Still, if you don’t know the caller, do not return the call. Don’t trust… but, if you must, VERIFY!!

    • Leo Reply

      Funny. That’s exactly what my wife and I do. If we don’t recognize the number, we don’t answer. If it’s important they’ll leave voicemail. Completely bypasses scams and unwarranted sales calls.

  46. Chris Calvert Reply

    The unfortunate thing about this scam is the fact that you answered the phone in the first place. They now know they have a “live one”. Over the last few years I have had over 100 calls from these people. Sometimes 2-3 times a week. The first time I answered the phone I let them show me the errors I was supposedly having before finally terminating the call. Mistake. There is a second part to this scam. They have an automatic dialler but if the “tech” at the other end can’t get to the call in time it hangs up giving you some sort of thank you comment. So this is also phone spam.
    So I now deal with these calls either of two ways depending on how annoyed I am. 1. Either a stream of personal abuse (I feel better after this even though it is only for a short time and you have to make sure it IS the scam before starting) or 2. a loud whistle blown down the line and then hang up. I haven’t had too many calls lately so am hoping that they have now taken my number off their call list.

  47. Eirlys Reply

    I have been called several times by a so-called “Microsoft expert”. I know this is a scam and I reply in several ways, depending on the mood I’m in.

    Sometimes I keep repeating “Hello. Hello. I can’t hear you!” They start speaking very loudly and very fast and so do I, until one of us tires of the “conversation”.

    Other times I speak Welsh and that really throws them!

    I ask them to wait a minute and walk away. The caller gets fed up of waiting.

    Sometimes my husband interrupts on the extension: “We’re tracing the call, Madam” he says and the caller puts the phone down right away.

    Oh dear! We are sad !

    I am surprised some people still fall for this scam as there has been so much publicity to warn all PC users.

    (Love Bob’s comment regarding Bill Gates. Alas the latter doesn’t live in the UK!. Still this particular Microsoft expert wouldn’t know that, would he!)

  48. Eirlys Reply

    Our phone is as ancient as we are. Time for a new one with an answer machine, etc., as advised above.

  49. Kevin Reply

    Don’t really understand these replies. All one has to do is hang up very quickly. If done you usually do not get many repeats. Had a friend not so long ago that was being plagued by fanbox !!!. I fixed his comp so that all was transferred to trash. (He was using Yahoo !). After 3 weeks even Fanbox seemed to give up. Or were we lucky????
    As far as I know GMail will auto delete !!!

  50. Naizby Reply

    I regularly, a couple of times most months, get the call, ‘I am calling about computer errors on your computer?’ My response now is always, ‘Which computer is that. We have quite a few?’ the phone line always goes dead straight away.

  51. Karen Reply

    I was scammed today but it was alert on my computer to call. I am so dumb I gave them access to my computer but didn’t give them money. But all my personal files were on my computer. When they scanned my computer did they get all my files? I turned off my computer and called all my banks and cancelled everything. Also called federal agency center and trans-union credit bureau to alert everyone of my scam that I fell for. So what do I do now with my computer now?

Leave a reply:

Before commenting please:

  • Read the article. Seriously. You'd be shocked at how many people make comments that prove they didn't.
  • Comment only on the article. If you have a new, unrelated question start with the search box at the top of the page.
  • Don't post personal information. Email addresses, phone numbers and such will be removed.

VERY IMPORTANT: because of a rise an comment spam that's making it through our filters any comments that do not add to the discussion - typically off topic or content-free comments - run a very high risk of being flagged as spam and removed.

If you have a new question unrelated to the article above, ask it on the Ask Leo! ask-a-question page.