It all starts with a phone call from someone or company you do not know claiming there is a problem with your computer. They claim they they are from a legitimate company, that they can prove the problems with your computer (and that it may be affecting the internet or your security of your computer) and they have called to inform you of this and to help you. Wrong! Wrong! Wrong! HANG UP!
This could already have happened to you and you don’t even realize it but the threat to your computer, privacy, security, bank and investment accounts, credit cards, any websites you visit, passwords, emails, contacts in your emails are all VERY REAL and costly. Please don not dismiss reading this as this scam is reaching EPIDEMIC proportions and the tips in this article can you save time, money, embarrassment and many headaches. Even if you discover after reading this that you have fallen victim of this scam there is information within here about what to do about it.
The SCAM is someone calling claiming to be from Microsoft or some other computer tech company (may be telling you they are from a name you recognize or something you’ve never heard before.) They *con* you into believing they really are from a legitimate company and even seem to be able to *prove* it by giving you bits of information that seem like they really know something true about you or your computer that may start to have you thinking they *must* be legitimate. (They are NOT.)
They will then attempt to convince you to follow their instructions (DO NOT) to type in various commands to various Microsoft tools already in your computer will ‘prove’ to you that there is evidence of malware, viruses, infections on your computer *right this very minute*, and even claim your license to Microsoft has expired. These are all lies!
They will tell you (lie to you) that what you see are evidence of serious errors and security issues and that your Microsoft (or other) ‘license’ has ‘expired’ and you need to have these problems fixed and also have your ‘license’ renewed.
The approach they take next varies but they all end up trying to convincing you go to their website or download some software of there’s so they can “help you”. What they are doing is setting up your computer so they can gain remote control access to your computer (and everything on it.) They may say it’s to their ‘help desk’ or ‘technician’s desk’ and it’s to help you and ‘fix’ these issues but it all is a LIE! Usually they will say that they can also ‘renew’ your license for lifetime vs. having it expired – all for a for a one-time ‘reasonable’ fee. All of these are LIES and CONS! Your Microsoft license has NOT expired!!! There is no such thing!
The worst cases I have seen and helped people get out of are cases where these SCAM operations have gained enough of your confidence about who they say they are and convinced you that they are there to help you and they get you to follow their instructions to provide them remote access to your computer, eventually get you to pay money to them and much worse. (Note the word “CON” comes from the word ‘confidence’. They are working to trick you to gain your ‘confidence’ that they are doing good for you. AKA ‘con man’, etc.). Once you give them remote control of your computer the complete security of your computer and all information about you and how you use your computer has now been completely compromised.
The information above and tips below should help you avoid getting into this mess in the first place and also provide tips for what to do if you realize you have been SCAM’ed:
Number 1 – Just read this article to become aware of this very REAL risk that I have seen too many people fall victim to in the past year or so. READ this. Knowledge is power and your friend and in this case can save you a LOT of money and headaches.
2 – NO legitimate company will call you to do this! Not your ISP, not Microsoft, not someone saying they work for Microsoft, not ANY tech support company. The ONLY person that you should trust is someone that you KNOW. If you don’t know the person then interrupt them, say “thank you, goodbye” and HANG UP! (Do not stay on the phone while they continue to talk to you – HANG UP!)
2 – If for some reason you really believe the caller might be legitimate (and I’m telling you the epidemic size of this CON is growing so fast that 999 times out of 1,000 it is completely a CON and a LIE and you are in the process of getting robbed) then ask them for their name, the company name, their website address (do NOT go to their website!!!) and the phone number that you can reach them at. Write this all down and then kindly say “thank you, goodbye” and HANG UP! THEN IMMEDIATELY call a LEGITIMATE computer tech person such as myself to tell me about it and seek advice and help. Do NOT trust anything you may find out about the company if you try and use a web search to try and find out about the company! These companies can fake all of that information in the search results and make a FAKE business look like a legitimate business. They can FAKE good reviews. They can FAKE everything! You need professional help here if you think this is legit. Do NOT trust them. Call your trusted computer tech for advice and help.
3 – Do NOT give them ANY information about yourself, about your computer, about your internet service provider – NOTHING! They can USE any of that as part of their CON and they WILL do so! Act like Fort Knox. Tell them NOTHING! Do not even confirm or deny information THEY try to tell YOU about you or your system. Just do NOT do it!!! Even if it seems like they have legitimate information – do NOT confirm or deny if the information they have is true or false. Hang up or get their information and then hang up and get HELP!
4 – If you DO give them any information or go further and start to follow their instructions to do things on your computer then *shutdown* your computer ASAP and GET HELP ASAP from a highly competent computer tech support person that you PERSONALLY know and TRUST and tell them of all the above! Depending on what you told the other party or what you did following their instructions you may very well have to pay for a REAL trustworthy expert help to UNDO the damage that was done. is usually still in place and continuing to do MORE and MORE damage! Believe me – it will be worth it. If you do not seek trusted, known, expert help the cost to you can become immense and very embarrassing.
5 – Do not be EMBARRASSED to call a known, trusted expert for help and to admit you fell into this trap!!! You MUST get your system checked out and all remote control software removed, connections disabled, security checked out and more. If you do not then things will ONLY get worse for you and end up costing you more and more. These CONS and SCAMMERS are known now to be rendering people’s computers so they are dead, non-functional or to pretend (and convince you) that they are doing “GOOD” and get you to pay lots of money (usually for FAKE or UNNEEDED products – and worse – products/software that are security nightmares and risks to you, your data, your bank/cash.) In the worst incidents I have come across people have provided (or had stolen) their credit card and bank account information and harassed to pay more and more money to these scam organizations. This is flat out fraud and needs to be dealt as such.
6 – If all the above has happened to you and you think “they are doing a good job” – THINK AGAIN and seek independent expert HELP from someone you know and trust to inspect your system!!!! The BEST scams and cons are ones were they do not do anything obvious to expose the fact they are scamming and con’ing you!!! The longer they can have you ‘hooked’ without you suspecting or ending it – the more damage they can do and they can do it without you knowing it. Believe me – I have seen this happen to too many people in the last 6 months – year. It’s sad to see and it can be very costly and a giant hassle – but it’s BEST to get help to END it no matter the hassle. In most cases this is flat out fraud and stealing all under the guise of a con to make it seem legitimate and to keep you feeling like this is a ‘good’ thing so they can keep stealing from you or continue providing illegitimate services to you for fees that really are just another form of ripping you off. It may *seem* like they are there to help you but believe me – they are NOT!
7 – The tools a legitimate tech support person like myself and a CON may use may actually be the same or similar but how they use them and for what reasons are night and day different! Yes they may lead you to what looks like (or may actually be) legitimate software to use to do remote connections or to ‘scan’ your system. But they are not using them for good but ultimately to steal your cash whether you realize it or not. Many things they say about your system having errors and infections are just not true and the tools they end up selling, etc. are completely false or ‘snake oil’ products.
8 – Avoid all this from the start and arrange a legitimate relationship and support plan from someone you KNOW, you TRUST. (I have such services and plans.) Have your legitimate/trusted computer tech support person set up your system so it is SECURE AND MONITORED. Follow their advice! Call them if you ever have any questions or concerns. It may cost you but it will be ALL WORTH IT. The expense of having to cleanup from a CON or SCAM can be many more times expensive and take hours or days of your **own** personal time to recover from. You may even lose money you can NOT recover because the CON and SCAM was designed to “protect” them from anyone calling ‘fowl’ on them. In the worst cases I have had to advise clients to reach out to all their banks, all credit cards and other sources to explain the FRAUD that has happened, try and recover their lost money, secure or get new identities (since their current ones have now been stolen), set up higher level of security and alerts at these various financial institutions to alert them of any future attempts by these CONS to continue this; change their phone numbers and/or install blocking devices to stop harassing phone calls and much more.
Believe me – YOUR personal time to deal with this can be more costly the cost of the trusted tech help to get you out of the mess and many times more costly than preventing it in the first place. PREVENTING this from the start and the costs to do so are likely to be MUCH less expensive and provide you with greater confidence that you know who to call when you have questions and that you will get truthful information and help.
It is unfortunate that scammers have discovered how easy this is to ‘convince’ and “get” new victims. Sadly many times the victims will not realize they have been taken advantage of for days, weeks, months or in some cases even years!
Fixing / Preventing this. Is it really costly or rather should it be viewed as High Value and very much worth it?
Many people today make the mistake of thinking preventing and preparing for protection is costly or that having to deal with having fallen for a scam is costly. Since the price of computers have come down so much over the last number of years it appears to many people that ‘services’ to do the right thing by legitimate/trusted people may at first glance seem ‘expensive’. But consider this … the time, expertise, and service provided by your trusted computer tech person should be of high value to you and should not be something based on what your computer cost you. These days it’s not the cost of your computer that matters! (Also be very careful that you aren’t comparing costs to those of ‘costs’ what the “scam” outfit is trying to extract from you.) When you use the services of a known and trusted professional you are paying for security, protection, expert advice, monitoring, and the safety/protection of your data, money, bank accounts, credit cards and identity! That is what is of value and what you need to consider you are protecting and not compare that to whatever sale price your computer cost you. These days it’s not the cost of a computer that matters so much as the investment in knowledgeable trusted technical advisers and following their advice. A computer can easily be replaced. But your data, your identity, your bank/credit card funds, your credit rating and time to fix these things – these are matters that are not fixed by a Friday sale at a computer store by just purchasing a new PC. These are things you need to be vigilant about (or have someone on your side that is doing so with your best interests in mind). To protect and realize the value of these things is independent of the cost of a mouse, a printer or a weekend sale of a PC.
Apologies on the quick and poor writing of this posting. It is rough and poor I am certain. But I need to get the news out. Be aware of these scams and cons and do NOT fall victim to them and get professional trusted help – ideally from some ONE person you actually know and can trust vs. just a large company with different ‘tech’ people that vary shift by shift, week by week. And do this sooner rather than later! IDEALLY do this BEFORE anything like this even happens to you. Get protected and covered!
Below are links to other articles and to actual filmed videos of some of these scams in action. I encourage you to skim over the article as well as check out some of the videos of these scam operators attempting to do their “con” being caught in the act.
Some very recent
YouTube videos of actual recordings of these scams in progress:
This next YouTube recording is EXCELLENT. It’s a short show by “Category5 Technology TV” interviewing Dale Pearson about his recording of a real incident and what’s going on behind all this, the dangers, the manipulation, why. I have made it shorter if you want. The links below take you to key parts of the show so you can skip over other parts of the show.
Dale’s full recording of these people trying to scam him can be found much further down but this show does a great job interviewing Dale and getting information about what’s happening in much less time. (Interestingly the show is sponsored by ESET! ONE of the TOP AV products I recommend to ALL my customers. ESET advertisement: (2:30 – 3:48))
Question and Answer about “Is this a real threat?”, what’s actually going on that you don’t know about while this is happening and how bad this can be for you, your computer, your identity, your bank and credit cards and in the worst case they can encrypt or delete all data from your computer if they decide to at any point now or in the future.
How did they get your phone number? The initial *small* damage charging you $$$ hides the actual larger damage getting credit card, bank information, monitoring your keyboard for when you type passwords, etc! [From 17 min to 18:30]
And finally at 23:15 min – public awareness, how to protect ourselves. [You can stop at the 29 min 30 second point if you want as the show moves on to other subjects.]
The full Dale Pearson recording (well only 30 mins of his 3 hour episode with them)
Tech Support Scammers recorded by by Dale Pearson.
Fake Microsoft Support Call recorded by Jerome Segura (Ironically phone call was made to a Senior Security Researcher at Malwarebytes – a top rated security company!)
Documented – Microsoft Computer Support SCAM / Complete event
Recorded by security research fellow at Panda Security.
NOTE: Around the 12 minute mark the SCAMMER tries to fool the person that their Windows license has expired (a complete LIE!)
And last one …