New – Not New – Computer Scam

For the past six months or so We’ve been receiving questions about a number of similar incidents. The question goes something like this:

“I got a strange phone call from a guy saying he was from Microsoft and that my computer has reported that it has a virus — or some other problem that would instill immediate fear. Then he asked me for money to fix the problem.”

Let me tell you that those that have asked us about this have had the confidence to tell the person on the phone that they will talk to their “tech guys” about it. I wasn’t going to write about it until yesterday, when I received the same phone call. I was taken aback at first, then remembered the answers we’ve been giving to our [web]Neighbors.

First, this is a Scam — Microsoft does not proactively call owners of Windows, Office, or other Microsoft products. While it would be nice, if you haven’t registered your information with them, they won’t have your info and from what I have registered, Microsoft only cares about your name and email address for everything unless they are actively billing you for a service. If you would like a service that proactively scans your PC Health, you can register for [web]Neighbor’s Cardigan PC Health Monitoring service here.

Second, don’t be afraid to ask questions to verify identity — Our computers at [web]Neighbor are given specific names. Most computers get auto-generated names like “DADS HP3720:1” or something similar. The first question I asked to my unsuspecting Microsoft Tech was, “Which computer reported the problem?” knowing full well that he had no idea what I was referring to. Just because someone says they are from a company, doesn’t mean they really are. When [web]Neighbor reaches out to a customer, we will know what computer we are talking about or what Support Ticket we are replying to. We will also know what is going on and try to be as detailed as possible when communicating to you.

Third, don’t believe what they say — Microsoft Windows does not have a built-in Anti Virus scanner. You have to download and install either Windows Defender, Microsoft Security Essentials, or the Microsoft Malware Protection Center. We are currently looking to expand our services, so if you would like [web]Neighbor to help you monitor and protect your PC from Viruses, Contact Us and let us know your interest.

Finally, we recognize that there are bad people in the world that try to hurt our neighbors. We hope that we are a safe haven for anyone that has computer questions. Come to us, click on our Help! Support link and feel free to ask us a question. We will use the resources we have to get you the best and most understandable answer we can provide. Come on in, take off your shoes, and grab your cardigan — Won’t you be our [web]Neighbor?

1. "Microsoft Impersonation Scam" was validated at Snopes.com

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