Windows Tech Support Phone Scam Alert

A scam that has been around since 2010 is still catching computer owners off guard.

Scam Alert

Several months ago, a co-worker approached me and told me how her computer had been taken over by hackers. After a little investigation, it turns out that her “hacked” computer was the result of a phone scam that has been around since before 2010. After some back up attempts and cleaning of her machine, we were back to new”ish”…I received the same call this morning, and it prompted me to write this quick informative post to help you avoid the same scam pitfall.

“Hello, this is Windows tech support and we have been receiving error messages from your computer” This is the message I received from an unfamiliar (383-781-2936) number at 9:30 in the morning in a foreign accent. At first glance, this service message from a friendly voice seemed like great customer service from my computer’s manufacture…but upon closer investigation, it became obvious that this was a scam.

Ignoring the obvious technical red flags, like the fact that my computer should not be monitored for error messages, some Q&A confirmed my suspicion that this was a scam. After I began asking specific questions to the “service representative” on the other end of the phone, she answers fell short, but close enough that the average computer user could easily be fooled into handing over cash and access.

The basics of the scam are this…you receive a call from tech support letting you know that they have been getting error messages from your computer. They ask you to open technical windows logs showing you seemingly endless lists of errors (these are actually low level common error logs for normal computing processes), but this is enough to hook the computer user into thinking they actually have an issue. You are then told that they are able to fix these errors remotely for a “small fee.” After handing over your credit card info, and following their directions to load a remote access application, the scammers now have full access to your computer and credit card. YIKES!

In the case of my phone call this morning, here is where she missed the mark:

Q: What company to you work for?
A: Windows…
Q: That is not a company…do you mean Microsoft?
A: No the company I work for is the Windows Corporation…
Q: What is your phone number
A: Some random 1800 number from the Microsoft website
Q: What is your mailing address?

Obviously not a very well informed scam artist, but enough to catch you off guard.