How to combat tech support phone scams

Nana writes:

“I received a telephone call at home from a person claiming to be from “Microsoft Operating Systems.” He had an urgent need to “fix” a virus. I had trouble understanding him, and when I starting asking questions, he got frustrated. Was this person calling from Microsoft?”

This person was not calling from Microsoft. Microsoft will not make unsolicited phone calls about computer security or software fixes. If you receive a call like this one, it’s a scam and all you need to do is hang up.

If you’ve already given your computer access to someone who called and claimed to be from Microsoft tech support, do the following:

  • Reset your computer’s password. Learn how to change your Windows 8 password. If you’re not using Windows 8, Press Ctrl+Alt+Delete, and then click Change a password. Make sure it’s a strong password.
  • Scan your computer with the Microsoft Safety Scanner to find out if you have malware installed on your computer.
  • Make sure you’re using antivirus software. Windows 8 includes antivirus protection that’s turned on by default. If your computer isn’t running Windows 8, download Microsoft Security Essentials for free. Note that Microsoft Security Essentials is a free program. If someone calls you to install this product and then charges you for it, this is also a scam.

If you gave someone your credit card information to pay for services, contact your credit card company and alert them to this fraudulent purchase.

More information about how to avoid tech support phone scams.

About the Author
Eve Blakemore

Group Manager, Trustworthy Computing

Eve Blakemore is a Group Manager for Trustworthy Computing who delivers consumer guidance around the latest trends in security and privacy. Eve joined Microsoft in 1998 and has worked in corporate and field roles with Microsoft Learning, US Public Sector, Read more »

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28 comments
  1. Anonymous

    I received a call like this last night from someone named Robert saying I my computer was uploading and down loading viruses and he could help fix my problem.  I had a hard time hearing him and hung up.  Glad to know it was a hoax.

  2. Anonymous

    Have gotten about 20 of the calls from someone who sounds like they are from India, more than one caller, all day long and last night at 11:30pm. I know it is a scam but anyway to stop the calls?

  3. Anonymous

    I also received 3 calls from Windows sales support. I asked for a call back number and realized it was a non working number. I was told that I need to log into my computer, but I did not.  Be careful!!  

  4. Anonymous

    Just received a call from a "certified Microsoft technician" informing me that my computer was generating an error message and he was calling to fix it.  When I said that's amazing, I am using Apple OS on my Mac, he hung up on me.

    Foreign accent with lots of talking in the backroom—so this is probably a large scale scam operation.  Another tip is that the phone number comes up as "Out of area" with no company ID.

    Bill Gates—-go get these guys!!

  5. Anonymous

    I received a call from someone (foreign speaking–India?), from the following phone number 999-910-0353, the man told me that he was calling because the imaging on my computer have been hacked and that my computer has been reported as having been hacked several times.  I told him I was going to report the call to the Better Business Bureau.

    Please make people aware of this scam!  The man was very persistent!

  6. Anonymous

    a guy named Allen called he couldn't satisfy my questions so I hung up.  He says his number is 804-384-5005.  I gave him no info and didn't log into the site because I couldn't understand what the heck he was saying

  7. Anonymous

    These are unfortunate scams, and as an IT Support company owner, I'm glad to see information shared to help prevent this type of fraud.  The bottom line:  if someone calls you to report you have a virus, just hang up.  You would be likely the first to know.  If you have concerns, run the Windows Defender (windows 8) or Security Essentials (prior to windows 8), or a variety of free tools.  

  8. Anonymous

    Oh this is old stuff. Been getting it for over a year now – although it has slowed down to a trickle [lately it is some free cruise]. As soon as I hear where they are from I hang up [I do miss the old days with the non-wireless phones where you can slam the phone on them!]. You can also see right away from caller ID. Majority of them seem to begin with "V10…" – Yes a "V".

     

  9. Anonymous

    I have been contacted by these "people" numerous times. This time I could hear my answer after about 4 seconds. I wish these "people" would LEAVE ME ALONE. They want me to just give up the internet for good.

  10. Anonymous

    I also received a call telling me my computer had been hacked into and i should take action to fix this, he claimed to be calling from microsoft. The phone # came up as 416-364-1111 and when i tried to call back it came up as disconected. I thought it sounded like a scam.

  11. Anonymous

    I have received two of these calls today, one at 6:40 a.m. and one around 11:00 a.m., both from the same person.  I think he said his name was Kirk.  Said he was calling from Windows support.  He was quite obnoxious.  He hung up on me on the first call when I said I was having difficulty understanding him (hearing him, and his accent) and asked why he was calling at that time of morning.  When he called the second time this morning he said over the last couple of days our computer had been sending messages to Windows and this meant there were corrupted programs in it.  I couldn't quite get all that he was saying, but he asked if I was sitting in front of my computer and I think he wanted me to delete some (program?) files.  At this point, thankfully, my 'red flags went up' and I said that I wasn't doing anything like that over the phone because I had no idea who he was and if he was even a legitimate employee of Windows.  At this he got quite agitated and even more obnoxious so I hung up on him this time!   I now think we have had another one of these calls

  12. Anonymous

    I don't use a PC so it was pretty obvious the person who called me was a scammer.  The more I tried to verify who they were and where they were, the more angry the person became.  I kept persisting with my questions and they hung up.  

    I came to the Microsoft web site to find a way to verify, and finally found this section.  Would be  nice if this was on home page…ie: scam alerts…

  13. Anonymous

    I just received one of these calls also.  Heavy Indian accent,  lots of people in the background, same story–he was calling from Microsoft, they were getting messages that my computer is downloading dangerous viruses, he could fix it for me, blah, blah, blah.  Everytime I asked a question (such as "What are you selling?") he would start the whole pitch all over again.   He wanted me to turn on my computer and he would instruct me on what to do–by this time, red flags were popping up and I said "Sure, you'll instruct me on how to download some major virus!"  So, he started again–I just said "No, I don't think so!" and he hung up on me.  Something really needs to be done about this–there was a time when I would have fallen for it and I can see how people can get sucked in, especially us older folks who are more apt to believe someone when they say they are calling from Microsoft or the bank or the credit card company or whatever.

    It can't be said enough–DO NOT give out information over the phone, DO NOT do something just because someone on the phone tells you to, DO NOT be bullied by callers.  HANG UP–you can always call the bank or whomever to find out if they really did just call you.  Glad to hear that so many people are hanging up on these jerks.  One more thing–spread the word to everybody you know who has a computer and might be trusting enough (or scared enough by the words "dangerous viruses") to fall for this.

  14. Anonymous

    Same deal, called , said my computer was in danger, said he was from windows. I askd him a few questions, when he said I should open the computer, I said we are done and hung up. When I dialed the number back it came up as no longer in service. Absolute scam. Beware people, beware.

  15. Anonymous

    We just received a call described repeatedly above (Indian dialect, urgently wanted to assist us because our computer was going to crash, etc.).  I told him there was no way I was going to follow his instructions (he was telling me to hit Ctrl-the windows key and type in) as how did I know he wasn't a scam artist trying to access personal info.  He told me to hang up if I thought he was a threat, so I did.  He called back immediately.  I'm so glad I was home and my teen and tween didn't answer.  This will definitely begin a dialogue with them at the dinner table tonight. How intrusive–this makes me so angry!  The number was from POTS Phone AB 1-780-4094786.

  16. Anonymous

    I (and my family) get these calls on a regular basis. When they call I tell them they have called the wrong number – because my systems run Linux not Windows. This renders them confused and they don't know what to say next.

  17. Anonymous

    I've had them too. I laughed at the guy because I know Microsoft doesn't make personal calls and just hung up. Now I don't answer, (call display) and let the answering machine take the call. Guess what?…No message left. lmao

  18. Anonymous

    i known all the companie how running this fake tech support

    scam if anyone want to catch them . i can help them to get all the information

    like

    name of the company

    where are they located

     

  19. Anonymous

    Watch out even if you initiated the contact.  I did because of a security issue and because the Microsoft technician could not speak English well enough to accomplish anything and out of frustration I allowed him access to my computer.  He rendered it inoperable and my subsequent contacts with Microsoft were totally fruitless.  The only solution was to buy a new computer which means another Microsoft operating system was sold!  Good for them, I suppose!

  20. Anonymous

    PAYBYPASS SCAM

    There is one more company PAYBYPASS.COM

    which is also involved in this kind of SCAM.

    They will provide merchant accounts to You to charge Your customers and after that they will not pay you.

    Beware of these SCAMMERS and FRAUDSTERS

  21. Anonymous

    Just got the same type of call… He was scrambling to answer my interrogations. Glad I answered the phone.

  22. Anonymous

    I am in Sydney Australia and received many phone calls tonight from Indian sounding people in an office(many people talking) re: problems with my computer and they needed to get in and fix it. I asked for phone number, rang it and got the same person. No ID. Rang again and got the manager and of course he says Hello Windows Security. Then proceeds to tell me his name is John Smith. They have continued to ring and I have said I need to ask someone before doing anything. Luckily I rang someone and then I came and looked here though just coming back online has freaked me out as they said they could access my computer!!

  23. Anonymous

    Just had the same, he told me he wanted to verify my microsoft id number. He knew my name and address,

    I said ' are you sure my name isnt.. You stupid ****ing idiot' and he hung up!

  24. Anonymous

    Operating from Jodhpur, Jaipur etc these scammers are operating right under the nose of the Indian Goverment and they should be caught my the police and telecom authorities.

    A few website names are win31.com, supportwin31.com etc

  25. Anonymous

    I told him that I was on the do not call register and to remove me from his list. The number was 780-409-4786 out of Alberta. In these situations, I put in my cell phone the number under "Garbage" with the date of the call.

  26. Anonymous

    I have just received one of these calls, after telling the man that there was nothing wrong with my computer and to romove my number form their list, he informed me that my computer had been hacked several times and that I needed to switch it on so that he could help me clear it up!  My reply……….. I don't think so

  27. Anonymous

    I needed tech support & called 1877-778-1751. The man asked to call me back and did so from (302) 319-2029. He said he could help me get my email sign on back and asked for remote access to my computer. I allowed him and after a while I realized it may of been a scam!! I couldn't understand him because of accent and he changed what he was doing most of the time! I didn't take precaution thinking it was Outlook/Hotmail customer support

  28. Anonymous

    They called me when I said I only use Linux, the person hung up immediately.

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