Calls from Microsoft about computer problems – phone scam

Many people are getting calls now from companies who initially identify themselves as Microsoft saying that they noticed you have problems with your computer and they need to be fixed right away before your computer crashes. Once you start questioning them, they sound a little fishy and some will hang up on you right away, but some will actually give you their company name, website and call back number. A client of mine gave me this information from one that gave them all their contact info sounding very legitimate, but when I called them back myself, although they sounded very legitimate, they changed their story multiple times while I was on the phone, and made outright lies.

When I called this one company back, I pretended I was a friend calling to check them out, and eventually near the end of the call, I said I was a technician calling and they still didn’t hang up. They got balls! Here’s basically my recreation of the phone call, more or less summarized. The guy I spoke to on the phone at this company that initially identified themselves as Microsoft, we’ll call the “ScamTech”.

Before we start this dialogue, let me just point out to you that Microsoft never has and never will, call anyone directly. Someone may call you who is Microsoft certified but on that note, nobody, and I mean NoooooBoooody can ever say that they can see you have problems on your computer and that is why they are calling. Which is what these guys do. If they can see you have problems, that means they are already the problem because they hacked into your computer to spy on you. I’ll save the other details for you to read in the dialogue below:

***********
Me: I’m calling back because my friend got a call from you guys saying you found a problem with their computer and they were wondering how you found their number in the first place.

ScamTech: When you get errors on your screen that say “Send error report to Microsoft”, we get notified and are able to call you.

Me: That’s not true because I know for a fact when you read the fine print on the “Send error report” dialogue box on your computer it says “no personal identifiable information will be sent with this report. Microsoft will not contact you directly.”
So that’s not true and I also know Microsoft will never call anyone, so why did you tell them you are calling from Microsoft.

ScamTech: We didn’t say we were calling from Microsoft, we work on Microsoft products. And sometimes we get information from your Internet provider.

Me: Internet Providers like Bell and Rogers have privacy policies and it would be against the law for them to give out information, to any third party companies which would include you. So you didn’t get my friends number from their Internet provider or Microsoft. Also, I’m not just their friend, I’m a computer repair technician investigating this which seems to be a scam.

ScamTech: Oh, it is not a scam. We just call people from the phone book and ask them to check the event logs and it shows errors and we ask them if we can connect into their computer to fix it and if they agree, we will go ahead and fix it.

Me: That sounds more like what’s happening here. Chances are everyone has errors in their event log, so you are guarateed to find errors with every call. The problem is it doesn’t mean they have a realy problem. I’m surprised you haven’t hung up on me yet. I just wanted to see what you had to say about this since my client was suspecious about it. It sounds like you are running a legit business but you are going about it sneaky and we are getting mixed answers between what you tell them and what you are telling me. You changed your answer from getting information from Microsoft, to the Internet provider, to looking up their number in the phone book. You also told them you are calling from Microsoft and then changed your answer there too.
That’s all I need to know. Thanks for your time.

****
One of the reports I got from someone said they got their money back when they asked for a refund which was surprising.  The concerning part is what where they doing for 3 hours until the client decided to unplug their computer from the Internet and say this doesn’t feel right.  I then look at the computer and find hundreds of virsues.  They weren’t running a virus scan, they were only looking around it seemed according to some of my clients reports.

So if you get a call from someone claiming to be able to see you have computer problems and they want remote access to your computer so they can fix it. Start questioning them. They may hang up right away. If the don’t.  Ask them for a call back number and their website address.  Call your local trusted computer technician like Daniel at www.twinbytes.ca and we can help you if you truly do have a problem. Most likely your computer is fine as long as you don’t download any software that they tell you to download. If you did download something, you should immediately unplug your computer from the Internet and call your local computer repair company.

About Daniel Gauthier

work as a peace officer in various forms. Daniel wrote a book in 2009 called “Tech-Knowledgy” which got him on television and radio a few times. The concept behind the book was “to level the playing field between computer techs and non-techies so they don’t get take advantage of”. Daniel has a couple certifications including MCP and A+; he is preparing to write the Network+ exam and has studied CEH (Certified Ethical Hacker) and CHFI (Computer Hacking Forensics Investigator). Daniel has run his own computer service business “TwinBytes” since 2004. He has done a few talks on cyber security and generally enjoys training, educating and helping others.

4 thoughts on “Calls from Microsoft about computer problems – phone scam

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  2. John

    I keep getting calls from “Microsoft” technicians.
    I asked for a phone number and was given 239-247-5552.
    I’m not sure what to do next.

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