If you ever get a phone call from a company offering to help you with computer issues, beware – this is almost certainly a scam designed to scam you in some way or another.
This type of scam has been around for several years now and is commonly referred to as the “Microsoft Phone Scam” – indeed, the authors generally claim to represent the US company Microsoft.
But many people don’t know about this scam – and criminals continue to exploit this lack of awareness.
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How does the Microsoft phone scam work?
Victims receive a phone call from someone claiming to be a technology expert representing a large IT company.
They say that the individual’s computer has been infected with a virus or other malware and offer to help him put it right.
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Why are they calling me?
Your number is most likely from a mass marketing database, and scammers will try to call as many people as possible to increase their chances of success.
There’s no way for crooks to know if your computer is having problems or not (and there’s a good chance it isn’t).
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What happens next?
The criminal will then ask you to do one of the many things.
This could involve going to a specific website and downloading software that is supposed to fix your machine, but actually steals information from your bank account secretly, for example.
You may be asked to give the criminal permission to remotely access your computer – again, this may allow them to access your personal and financial data.
You may also be asked to make payment for “anti-virus software” or a similar type of protection, which in fact does not exist.
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What should I do if I receive a fraudulent phone call?
The best approach is to hang up. No tech company – including Microsoft – would contact customers in this way.
If you are concerned that your PC may be infected with a virus, make sure that you are using up-to-date antivirus software from a reputable vendor.
And even if you haven’t received such a call, let your friends and family know about the Microsoft phone scam – the more people know about it, the less likely they are to fall victim to it.
Say goodbye to annoying calls
The March 2017 edition of Saga Magazine contained the following helpful tip from Jennifer Newton:
BT’s new free phone service aims to turn off the worst offenders before they get to you; BT customers can sign up for its new free call protection service to stop nuisance calls regarding PPIs and false accident reports.
BT has compiled a blacklist of the worst offenders, which they believe will stop 30 million spam calls per week.
If a business still manages to get through, you can block them individually by dialing 1572 after hanging up, or by going online to build your own blacklist.
If enough customers block a particular number, it will be added to BT’s blacklist.
Register on: bt.com/callprotect, 0800 389 1572
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