March 16, 2015

Bogus Tech Calls

Phone Scam

“Hello, my name is Alex, I am calling from Microsoft.  You have errors on your computer, let me connect to your computer to fix them”.

How many of you have had this call?  We get a couple of customers a week who have been plagued by these bogus phone calls.  They trick you into believing they are Microsoft (or other reputable tech companies).

They direct you to what’s called the Event Viewer in Windows, which naturally contains various errors on the system.  It is totally normal to have these errors on a computer that’s working perfectly fine, however they play on your ignorance.

Once they have remotely connected to your computer, they will either install spyware/virus software that locks you out of your computer unless you pay a fee, or just simply apply an old password system which totally locks you out of your computer unless you pay them money!

A good rule of thumb is that any IT company will not proactively call you to fix issues, especially not Microsoft.

If you get one of these calls, our recommendation is to not engage with them at all, tell them you don’t have a computer, otherwise they will plague you with constant calls.  In some case’s they do get very extreme, with threats to yourself or member of your family!

“I personally have a very loud whistle next to my phone, so when they call I give it a nice long loud blow!  But thats me and I would never recommend that to anyone else”.

We contacted trading standards about this and they directed us to their website:

Computer Software Service frauds

From bogus ‘Computer Software Tech Support’ phone calls, e.g. someone from Microsoft or Apple contacting you and telling you there is a problem with your device, to fraudsters asking for credit card information to ‘validate your software’, e.g. validate your windows software, there are a number of computer software service scams you need to look out for.

Fraudsters often use the names of well-known companies to commit their crime, as it makes their communication with you seem more legitimate. This is why it’s important to think twice before giving out any personal information.

Common scams that use the brand names include:

  • receiving a phone call from ‘Microsoft Tech Support’ to fix your computer.
  • receiving unsolicited emails with attached security updates.
  • being asked for your credit card information to ‘validate your copy of Windows’.
  • being told you have won the ‘Microsoft Lottery’.

Computer firms warn that they do not send unsolicited emails or make unsolicited phone calls to request personal or financial information, or to fix your computer. They advise anyone who receives such communication to delete the email or hang up the phone.  If further assurance is needed individuals can contact the firm directly using the phone numbers obtained from their contract or other trusted sources.

Anyone who has lost money to a scam like this should report it to us.

Advice to avoid Computer Software Service scams

  • Computer firms do not make unsolicited phone calls to help you fix your computer. Fraudsters make these phone calls to try to steal from you and damage your computer with malware. Treat all unsolicited phone calls with scepticism and don’t give out any personal information.
  • Computer firms tend  not to send out unsolicited communication about security updates, although they do send security software updates to subscribers of the security communications program. If in doubt, don’t open the email.
  • Microsoft does not request credit card information to validate copies of Windows. Microsoft does validate requests to download software from its website via its ‘Genuine Advantage Program’, but never asks for any personally identifying information, including credit card details.
  • The ‘Microsoft Lottery’ does not exist –so it’s not true if you’re told you’ve won.