Beware of Scammers Claiming to be from Microsoft or Windows

We mention this from time to time, but we’ve had a few instances of this lately so I wanted to post it again and remind everyone to remain vigilant. There are a number of scams out there trying to get you to call a toll-free number, and either give these scammers your credit card info to “fix” your system or give them remote access to your PC (in which case they are likely going to put software on your PC to remote control it or log key strokes and steal your passwords and account information). Here are the three we have seen recently:
1) A “blue screen of death” or Windows crash screen pops up in your web browser. This is FAKE. First of all, a real Windows error screen will not give you a toll-free number to call. It will be information about the crash (error codes and the like) and will require you to restart the PC to resume operations. Many users will never see a legitimate Windows error like this is trying to impersonate, but this one is a clear fake. If you get this, open the task manager, quit Internet Explorer (or whatever browser you are using) and when you re-open the browser tell it NOT to restore your last session. Run an anti-vrisu scan, and move on.
2) An e-mail from Microsoft. Microsoft loves their customers, but they will NEVER e-mail you to let you know that you are going to have computer problems that could delete all of your data if you don’t immediately call the toll free number in an e-mail. The message shown below is one I got to my home e-mail address in the last 24 hours. Looks fairly official (clearly no one who has ever worked in Marketing wrote this up, it’s very “rough”) but the bad guys are simply hoping it’s intimidating enough to get you to call the number and again either surrender your credit card info or give the bad guys access to your PC. Just so you know, the sender name on this message showed as WindowsSupportSolutions.
3) A phone call from Microsoft or Windows. During prime telemarketing hours (6:00 to 9:00 PM) you get a call from someone claiming to be from “Microsoft” or from “Windows” (don’t even get me started there) saying that either your PC is infected and they need to clean it immediately to keep you from being banned from the internet, or your PC is about to crash and you will lose all of your data if you don’t let them fix it right away. The goal is the same. They want your credit card info and / or access to your PC. We still see this one pop up with pretty significant regularity despite having been in use for several years now.
Treat ANY communication like this with a healthy sense of skepticism. First of all, unless you are paying someone to monitor your computer, no one is going to be doing that out of the goodness of their heart and then warning you of impending trouble. We offer this as a paid service to our customers, but those of you who are using this would know about it and would get a communication from someone who knows your name, knows who you are, and that you have spoken with before. And Microsoft DOES NOT offer any such service. So if the caller / pop-up / e-mail says it is from Microsoft, IT IS NOT.
And try and apply some real-world cynicism to situations like this. If a stranger walked up to you on the street and said “Give me $200 and I can prevent you from being mugged” doesn’t that sound like you are paying them not to mug you? Same thing here. Be safe out there, and know that you can always call Carmichael if you are unsure as to the legitimacy of this type of messaging.

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