BBB Alert: Cold-calls claiming to be from Microsoft tech support

April 04, 2013

Vancouver, BC - April 04, 2013 - Multiple consumers have told the BBB in British Columbia that they have been contacted by an overseas computer repair company offering virus protection and claiming to work for Microsoft. 
Last year, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre reported over $505,000 lost to the scam with $63,000 of victim's losses from BC. This year in BC, the scam has taken over $10,000 from 38 victims ($88,000 overall).


How it works?


Consumers say they are being told by these callers that their computer has viruses and is in need of protection that only they can offer.  Microsoft has no connection with these calls and will not call your home to offer virus protection.  These calls are aimed at gaining remote access to your computer and collecting exorbitant fees for their services.


According to Microsoft, after gaining access to the computer, these callers can then install malicious software, steal personal information, take control of the computer remotely or direct consumers to fraudulent websites where they are asked to enter their credit card information.


Microsoft's Online Safety and Security Centre states that neither Microsoft nor its partners make unsolicited phone calls.


Several Prince George-area consumer described the caller as having a foreign accent, and according to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, the origins of the calls may be from India.


The caller may make the following claims to appear legitimate:

  • Your computer is infected with a virus and it has ‘somehow’ reported that fact to the technical support company.
  • Your computer is infected with a virus and it is sending out spam emails to people.
  • Your computer is ‘somehow’ reporting critical software or hardware errors to the technical support company, or sending out error messages, and it is in imminent danger of breaking or failing.
  • Your Windows Operating System is corrupted and about to fail.

“Always be wary of cold-calls,” says Danielle Primrose, President and C.E.O. of BBB serving Mainland BC. “Never give out personal information or remote access to your computer to someone you don’t know. If they claim there is a security threat to your computer, hang up and call your computer company directly.”


BBB advises consumers follow these tips to protect themselves from scammers attempting to access their computer:

  • Never give control of your computer to a third party unless you can confirm that it is a legitimate representative of a computer support team with whom you are already a customer.
  • Never provide your credit card or financial information to someone claiming to be from tech support.
  • Take the caller’s information down and report it to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.
  • If you did allow a caller to access your computer:
  • Change the passwords for your computer, email and online banking/credit card accounts.
  • Be sure to run a virus scan
  • Consider placing a fraud alert on your credit report if you shared personal and banking information with the scammer.