29 November 2020
Microsoft scam: don’t be taken in!
A so-called Microsoft technician calls you to repair your computer? If it happens to you, it is a scam which can cost you dearly! Find out how to avoid it.
Bear in mind
- Microsoft will never call you pro-actively.
- If somebody calls you claiming to be from Microsoft, hang up straightaway.
- Never give out your code number, your codes or those indicated on your card reader.
What is this Microsoft scam?
Cybercriminals use several techniques to extort money from you. Claiming to be a Microsoft technician is one of them. They call you, mainly during the daytime as they target pensioners or the elderly who are the most vulnerable. These imposters make you believe they need to repair your computer remotely.
How to recognise a Microsoft scam?
- Somebody calls you and explains, in English with a foreign accent, that they are from Microsoft and that your computer has been infected by a virus. They will offer to solve the problem remotely.
- Then they will ask you to download an app on your computer which will enable them to take it over remotely. If you do, from then on you will no longer have control over your computer. The cybercriminal can creep in to steal your details whenever they want.
- The cybercriminal will often show you a few ways to "prove" that your computer is infected and that they can mend it.
- The cybercriminal will then ask you to pay for their services. They will guide you through several payment screens where you will be asked to fill in the fields with your account number, your PIN number and the code from your card reader. Thanks to those codes they will then be able to make several payments for an amount far higher than that initially agreed. If you refuse to pay, the cybercriminal can become aggressive and threaten to block your computer.
What to do if you are a victim of this type of fraud?
If a somebody claiming to be from Microsoft calls you, hang up straightaway! And do not answer if they try to call you back.
Microsoft will never call you pro-actively.
The company has very precise rules about contacting its users. Microsoft staff will never take the initiative to call you unless you have a case pending. Please report any fraud to Microsoft via this link.
If your computer is already controlled by cybercriminals, immediately disconnect it from the internet. Then run an anti-virus program to detect and remove any malware. Also change the passwords for all your accounts.
You can also file a complaint for spreading malware with a view to hacking. To that end you must gather proof of the facts and losses suffered and go to the local police station. Nevertheless the fact that the cybercriminals are based outside Europe strongly restricts the scope of any legal action.