BBB Alert: Cold-Calls Claiming To Be From Microsoft

  
     
March 22, 2013

Roanoke, VA (March 21, 2013) “This is me moving your mouse.”

Sure enough a Dublin consumer’s computer mouse cursor began to move across the screen on its own.

Someone had taken control of her computer. Unfortunately, minutes later they would have control of her bank account as well.

Multiple consumers have told the BBB in Western VA that they have been contacted by an overseas computer repair company offering virus protection and claiming to work for Microsoft. 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.

One consumer says the caller even placed a message on her screen to read to her credit card company. “The man told me to read ‘I am the owner of this credit card and I want to release these funds for an overseas transaction.’ Unfortunately I did just that.”

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 Julie Wheeler, President and C.E.O. of BBB in Western VA. “Never give out personal information 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:

· Install a firewall and anti-virus program to protect your computer and personal information. Update these programs frequently.

· Update your operating system and web browser software regularly.

· Protect your passwords by keeping them in a safe place. Create different passwords for each online account that you have.

· Never give personal or financial information to unsolicited callers.

· Contact your service provider directly if you are concerned you may be exposed to viruses or other security threats.

· Do not open or respond to emails or click links from unknown senders; this might infect your computer with malware, or confirm that a spammer has reached a valid address.

· Find a computer repair company you can trust. Go to http://www.bbb.org to find a BBB Accredited Business you can trust as well as check out a business.

If you need more information, contact the BBB at (540) 342-3455 or (800) 533-5501. You can also visit www.bbb.org. Follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/BBB_WesternVA