Help Protect Your Friends And Family From Phone Scams

Help Protect Your Friends And Family From Phone Scams

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A few weeks ago, I was surprised to get a call from Microsoft offering to help “fix my window”.  This was surprising because:

  1. My window wasn’t broken and having worked at Microsoft for a while, I’m pretty sure we don’t do home repairs.

  2. Microsoft doesn’t call people out of the blue to offer technical support (I knew what he was really talking about).

When I replied that I didn’t realize that Microsoft had anything to do with the windows on my house and there wasn’t anything wrong with them, the caller quickly set me straight.  This was about my computer and he was going to help me, all I had to do was give him some information and then install a program on my PC.

While I was mildly amused by the exchange, I ended the call there without handing out any of my information or installing any programs. I knew this was a scam and that it’s been making the rounds since the late summer of last year.  The company changes, but the theme is always the same. All of you reading this know it’s a scam too. 

We’re fortunate to work in technology and know that this doesn’t pass the sniff test and something stinks about it.  Our friends and family aren’t quite as lucky.  I’m sure I’m not the only one that can attest to someone I know falling for this scam.  And when they do, they’re embarrassed, they don’t want to talk about it, but they do want help to fix it.  After all, if you work in IT, you’ve become the default tech support for your friends and family.

The best way to help those friends and family members that rely on you for tech support is to arm them with information.  Not only are you helping them, you’re helping yourself, if they avoid the scam, you avoid having to clean it up.

There’s a great infographic that some of the folks here at Microsoft Canada have put together  about how to avoid phone scams that you can use to educate yourself, so you can educate others.  I’ve included it below.

Do you have any other helpful tips for others to avoid these types of scams?

 

 

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  • They have changed their scheme a bit. Now instead of just Microsoft they are also claiming to be from Bell Videotron, and probably others.

    If you think they may be scammers, there is an easy way to know for sure: If you have called them before, they always ask for verification such as your address, birthday, account information, etc. So if you are unsure, ask them what your information is [ignore your address because they can probably get it].

    See also this blog: ebraiter.wordpress.com/.../watch-out-for-phishing-scams-by-phone

  • Thanks, I appreicate the comment and the additional information.  You're right, they have been changing this up a bit and have been claiming to be from some other technology companies as well.  It's good to hear your friend didn't fall for it.

  • i've received these calls too and if you're careful you'll catch the scam right away. Too bad too many people fall for anything connected to an official-sounding or well-known 'household' corporation. Technical suppport is never an outbound communique. Good work keeping this reminder in the forefront!

  • Thanks Heidi.  I agree, too many people fall for it because it sounds legit.  We'll do our best to spread the word, appreciate you reading (and hopefully passing along).

  • We just got a call at our house today, for the 3rd time! Very annoying to be bothered by scammers especially on a holiday. My husband had a bit of fun with them, pretending we only had Macs at our house (not true!) and kept them on the phone for a bit so they wouldn't have as much time to scam other people who might not know that they're bogus.

    Very annoying and very distressing that folks are getting fooled by these people. Please spread the word!

  • Too funny Ruth!  It seems like they do call at the most annoying times.  I think the more we can spread the word, the less they'll profit off schemes like this, and hopefully the calls will stop.

  • Of course the big question is that what CAN be done to stop these scammers. Is the federal government [RCMP] doing anything?

    Can Microsoft do something aside from notices such as above [since not everyone will see it]. Since they are generally using Microsoft's name, shouldn't Microsoft take the lead?

    Maybe place ads in leading news papers?

  • I am a Block Watch Captain in my spare time.

    Could I have permission to forward this info to our Block Watch coordinator for inclusion in our next newsletter

  • I had them call me and they said my warrenty on my soft ware had expired and they wanted me to buy a life time warrenty for $500 . it was a Washington phone # its all a scam ..

  • Ken Jones - yes please include the infographic in your newsletter! That's what it was created for, so that you can pass the message along. Thanks for doing that.

  • Edward_b: You're right - not everyone will see this blog. But the infographic was created to give people something they can easily share to help get the word out. Put it up on your own blog, share it with your Facebook friends!

    There is also alot more detailed information about this and other scams and security risks on the site www.microsoft.com/security. I don't know if we (Microsoft) have plans to take out newspaper ads but I suppose that's certainly an option that the PR department may look into if the situation worsens. I do know that we are working diligently with law enforcment to stop these scammers. If you get a call and have information to share, please call the RCMP's Anti-Fraud Centre at the number listed in the infographic.

  • But Jennifer Langlois - it was only $500! How could you refuse such a deal? ;-)

  • Great article and a very tech-savvy co-worker received a similar call from "windows".  After advising the caller that "windows" isn't a company, he had a bit of fun with them by playing along before advising that he doesn't have a computer.  The person swore at him before hanging-up.  

  • Thanks Mark.  Your story is another great example of why these scammers will only get so far.  Of course, the more we can do to spread the word with others who may not know, the better!

  • After hanging up on them or "playing" with them a bit, you would figure by now that MAYBE they are smart enough not to call a number. Maybe they need to create their own Do Not Call Registry database. ;-)

    Come to think of it, maybe they have. I haven't receive a call from them in a while. I'm lonely. :-)