Microsoft phone scam – It can happen to anyone. If you found this article because you received a strange call from “Microsoft”, let us offer you some background and then we’ll provide insight, and answers.
NSI provides IT Support and Computer Services to literally thousands of businesses throughout New England and we often hear from our customers regarding scams and attempts to capture personal information through pop-ups, emails, and sometimes even phone calls.
“I’m getting this pop-up, I don’t recognize it, and they want me to install something”
Or, the unfortunate (and more common) “I DID click it, and I DID install something and now this, that, and the other thing aren’t working”.
Here in Naugatuck, CT, we have our own fully staffed help desk; it’s located just down the hall from my office, and we field calls like this on a weekly basis. So, now you know who we are, and what we do. Unfortunately (for him), the scammer who called our tech did NOT know who we are, and did NOT know what we do.
Here is the story:
In his own words, our tech explains what happened during this Microsoft phone call scam:
Today, after a long day at work, I received a very strange phone call from a fellow named “Robert”. Robert explained to me that he worked for the Microsoft troubleshooting department (almost sounds legit) and went on to say that he knew that my PC was slow and that it was experiencing errors including “toolbars, Malware, Viruses, Trojans and crashing constantly”. I enthusiastically replied that he was absolutely correct! Robert then asked me to go to my computer and follow some simple instructions which would bring up the “Event Viewer”. For those who are not familiar with the purpose of the event viewer, it pretty much logs when your computer starts/stops programs, shows errors and general information about what your computer has done in the past. It can look overwhelming if you don’t have a clue as to what you’re looking at.
Anyway, Robert wanted to “help” me by remotely logging on to my PC so that he could correct the problems that he knew existed. He explained that the service was free of charge! What? Microsoft has hired a bunch of people to monitor my PC and then call me when there’s a problem detected…how amazing is Microsoft?
OK, so now I’m really curious. I proceeded to tell him that I’m a network administrator for over 50 companies, and I’m very tech savvy. I had asked him what he was planning on doing, because I’m thinking if this kind of service is offered by Microsoft, the mother of all technology companies, why do folks need an NSI TotalCare tech like me? Well, not surprisingly, the tone of the conversation quickly changed and Robert said “oh, in that case you can probably fix the issues yourself, goodbye” and hung up.
At that moment, I thought of my friends, family, and people who aren’t as tech savvy as I am and that unknowingly could have been taken advantage of, in this situation. I know most of you out there would not fall for this - but I do want to make everyone aware that these fraudulent situations happen every day and lead to very serious identity theft. To say the least, it can be a huge problem to recover from. Do me a favor, if that phone call happens to you, hang up!
A couple of things struck me when I read how this scam played out:
1) I am lucky to have awesome technicians working at NSI. The first thing he thought of was friends and family. How cool is that!
2) He wanted to help. His first reaction was to spread the word, tell of his experience, and protect innocent people from scams. He sent me this information, specifically so I could share it here, on the NSI website and blog.
Thank you for reading. I hope you share this via twitter, facebook, and email, with your friends and family. In addition, we invite you to stop by, and see our help desk up close: busy techs, action figure heroes, snacks, and phones ringing off the hook all day long as wall-mount flat panel screens provide instant real-time status for hundreds of devices covered by NSI TotalCare Managed Services. It’s pretty cool. We’re open to the public M-F, 9am – 5pm – 102 Great Hill Road, Naugatuck, CT 06770 – Stop in! (we have coffee, and sometimes hot chocolate!