5 things you need to know about tech support scams

If someone calls you from Microsoft tech support to help you fix your computer, mobile phone, or tablet, this is a scam designed to install malicious software on your computer, steal your personal information, or both.

Do not trust unsolicited calls. Do not provide any personal information.

What you need to know about tech support phone scams:

  1. 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.

  2. Cybercriminals often use publicly available phone directories, so they might know your name and other personal information when they call you. They might even guess what operating system you’re using.

  3. If you have already given access to your computer to someone who claimed to be from Microsoft, immediately change your computers password, download the Microsoft Safety Scanner, and then make sure you have antivirus software installed.

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

  5. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has received reports that criminals are taking advantage of consumers’ knowledge of the scam by calling to offer refunds for phony tech support. This is also a scam.

For more information, see 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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24 comments
  1. Anonymous

    At 5:33pm today, 2/19/14, I received a call from "Windows Tech Support" asking for my wife.  The call that came in showed a caller ID of "Out of Area".  When asked what this was about the female caller, using the name Michelle, said that my wifes computer has been sending error messages and warnings to Windows Tech Support for the last four days.  I asked about the incoming none IDed number, telling her that I did not believe Microsoft would use that type of line.  

    She said it was an outgoing number that cannot be called back.  So, I asked for a supervisor and was told he was busy.  I asked for a callback number and she immediately recited 817-717-5557.  She refused to give an address for the Windows office when asked and I told her that made me more inclined to believe she did not work for Microsoft.  She then hung up on me.  That number is a Level 3 Communications, LLC,  landline located in Fort Worth, Texas.  When I called the number about 5 minutes later the same voice I recognized answered with a "Hello".  I said "Hello Michelle".  She said, oh, you hung up on me.  I asked her if that is the way she is trained to answer a business phone in the office.  She hung up on me again.  

    I would hope that Microsoft is interested in protecting it's name with the public.  In most cases, you never get a real lead on a possible fraud so you have no where to look.  Level 3 Communications, LLC, knows where their bill paying customers phone was installed, especially when it is a landline.

    Otherwise, you can tell me that the number is a Microsoft office number and Michelle works for the Windows Tech Support department in which case I will be happy to apologize to Michelle for giving her such a hard time.

  2. Anonymous

    Thanks for the guidance

  3. patriceconley@hotmail.com

    This morning, my aunt (who is 66) received a call from "World Wide Web Server" (India) indicating that her CLSID key had been deactivated because a hacker tried to enter her computer and needed to be 'reactivated'.  He got her as far verifying the CLSID key; however she couldn't understand what he was saying (accent was very thick) so she gave the phone to me. I began asking all kinds of questions to determine his identity and purpose for calling. The more questions I asked, the more frustrated he became and started yelling at me. I hung up the phone after I got enough laughs..

    They take advantage of people who are unknowing, and try to scare them into doing things by throwing all kinds of technical terms at them.  

  4. Anonymous

    I received a call this morning (8:38 am) from a number in Tucson, AZ (1-520-877-3528) which ended up being a number that was no longer in service or disconnected.  The person's name was William and he told me that my computer had been infected with viruses and I needed to go to my computer immediately and they would help me identify the problem and remove the viruses from my computer.  I was immediately suspicious and asked them if I could call them back.  William gave me a number and his id and when I tried to call them back, the number seemed to be a fax number.  Anyway, they called me back again and when I said I could not understand William (a heavy accent (Latin or Indian)), he transferred me to another individual (a women with a heavy accent) and she told me the same thing that William told me and when I told her I needed to verify who and what they were, she hung up on me.  Anyway, I just wanted to let you and the Microsoft community know what just happened to me and make you all aware of this phone scam.  I downloaded the security software that you provide and I have no viruses reported.  Just for laughs too, my computer was too slow for William and he got very frustrated with me too.  What a joke.  Be careful out there, folks.  Cuidado mucho.

  5. Anonymous

    Yes. I've been asked to select several addresses and passwords, some of which, I've used in the pass. However, I was told the reason for this was to help protect my computer from malicious software, and theft of my personal information. Also, I was told that, I needed to represent with alias to protect my main.

    The problem is, I' m not in the habit of remembering old user name or passwords, just because some one of authority says i should. Perhaps, now that i've been made aware of this, I will be able to save whatever I've been using. But what do I do now?  

  6. Anonymous

    I have received a call (from California) telling me my computer was in a dire danger to crash because suppossedly there were too many hackers using it. These people operate under the name of : "PandajeTech" and "Sach Solutions Inc" with an address in San Jose, CA. They've offered me a "solution" for fixing it for a certain amount. After I've hackled the price they offered me a more understanding amount to be paid in installments. This possibility seemed more feasible to my budget and I caved in paying by credit card. Now, it seems to me, after reading your preliminaires on the subject, that I have been taken in. There is more, these people give only rheir first name and appear reluctant to declare their last name. There's even more, it is taking days to fix my "issues" and they all seem to be Indian operatives. Apparently, all of these details fit the picture you've posted under security. What to do next ? I hope you can help me since the damage is already ongoing,Thank you.

  7. Anonymous

    I have received  a few phone calls from 'Microsoft' or the 'Microsoft Network Security' team over the past several years.  I always ask for a contact name and location.  The caller  either get angry or they tell me they are 'John' from 'California'.  When I ask for a contact number to reach them at then the line goes dead.  

  8. Anonymous

    I have the opppsite problem, when I had been trying to fix my toshiba laptop my husband would come home and somehow find out I was on the phone with a microsoft tech and then I could not hear the tech correctly on my phone because he and some other people do not want me to have use of a computer so they do everything they can possibly do to keep my laptop non functioning and my husband has stolen all my e-mail addresses my user name and says I am sharing my computer which I never did and never will but now I find I can't sign into any microsoft sight because he is my husband he has all my info and msn, microsoft site, windows ID won't let me in he does know how to program a computer but I am at the public libarary  sending this message  to see what kind of help I can get.

  9. Anonymous

    Thanks for the advice.  Just wanted to relay how my mother recieved phone calls, supposedly from Microsoft.  They had her address and name.  They told her that the microsoft software was infected with a virus that needed to be removed. He started to give instructions on how to go to the internet and download a software removal tool.  The problem though is that she does not have internet access and never has.  So, how could her computer be infected with a virus?

  10. Anonymous

    a cant seem to even get an answer from microsoft what a waste am moving on to apple thia windows 7 ultimate is a joke windows defender just wont update n the error report doesn't egsist action center cuppupt yet got all from genuine windows discusinting is all a have to say

  11. Anonymous

    I have been receiving calls from a man named victor stating he is from Microsoft for about 2weeks now I have been getting them now at midnight I keep telling him to stop calling and if I have a problem I would contact Microsoft myself he just called me again at 6pm I told him I was reporting this to microsoft  and it comes up on my caller id as unknown name and number  i told  him if he keeps it up I will have a tap put on phone he hung up then,i hope he gets it not to call me again

  12. Anonymous

    For the last week, I have received calls from Windows Security and Windows Tech Support….I know these are scams as I have not initiated the call. All with heavy accents (India). Is there something that can be done to stop these calls vs just hanging up?

  13. Anonymous

    I JUST RECEIVED A CALL FROM http://WWW.TEAMVIEW.COM.  THEY SAID THEY HAD RECEIVED NOTICES I WAS HAVING COMPUTER TROUBLE.  I TOLD THEM I WAS VERY SKEPTICAL MICROSOFT WOULD OPERATE  THIS WAY, AND TOLD THEM TO CALL ME BACK NEXT DAY, SO THAT I COULD CHECK WITH MICROSOFT.  I AM SO GLAD I HUNG UP AND READ THESE NOTICES.  

  14. Anonymous

    I received a call today from a fellw that stated I had a lot of chatter and warning messeges on my Internet line.  He gave the name as John Williams and said he wss with the Microsoft Tech Team.  His Incoming call no. was 916-282-5934.  He wanted to assist me in fixing the problem by going to the Microsoft key press it down and press R then, enter eventvwr.  In response to my questions he said his companies web site was http://www.ebitztechservices.com and his employee no was 2062370127.  He put his supervisor on who said his name was Chas. Walker.

    Needless to say I contacted my son and he also thought it appeared to be a scam and was glad I didn't give him the opportunity to take advantage of me.  He strongly advised running a full scan.

    Windows Defender won't turn on on my computer.  Appears there is some sort of problem

  15. Anonymous

    I received a call today from "David" who was trying to get me to purchase the Microsoft Security Essentials. He told me they were receiving error messages from my computer. I could purchase one of two packages. The first was for the life of the computer which cost $149. The other was for my lifetime which was $359. When I told him I wanted to discuss the purchase with my husband first, he got upset. I asked for a call back number, and he told me that he may not be available at that time. When I told him I would not purchase anything without discussing it with my husband, he got even angrier and hung up. When I tried to call the phone number back, it was busy.

  16. Anonymous

    I received one of these calls last week.  Instead of having some fun with the scammer and  stringing him along, and wasting his time and resources, I just said "You are full of $@*%" and hung up.  In hindsight, I wish that I would have kept him on the line and wasted his time – plus I would have had some fun doing it.

  17. Anonymous

    I persuaded a guy from "WindowsTechnical Support" to access my system using ftp, telnet, ssh and other protocols. Except it wasn't my system – the IP address I'd given him is 194.61.183.121

    Eventually I asked him to try browsing to the website he was trying to break into.

    When he went to http://194.61.183.121 and realised who he had been trying to hack, he screamed for a few seconds and started to cry….  it's actually a very safe and interesting site to browse to! Unless you try to hack in with ftp, telnet, ssh, … then they just might take an interest in you….  

  18. Anonymous

    I received several calls today from the following number, 520-877-3528.

    When I finally decided to answer my phone I was greeted by "Alex, from the Microsoft Department of Windows." He had a VERY heavy Mumbai accent, but I don't think he appreciated it when I laughed at him after he told me his employer.

    I asked him, "I suppose you'll want my credit card number?"

    "Alex" assured me he didn't want my credit card.

    I retorted, "I thought the way this worked was that I let you log into my computer and then you load a bunch of crap programs onto it, lock it down, and then tell me I need to pay you to get my computer fixed?"

    "Alex" then hung up on me.

    Was I too rude, or not rude enough?

    I can never tell.

    By the way, if you Google the above telephone number the fourth item which comes up is titled, "5 things you need to know about tech support scams."

    The more you know.

  19. Anonymous

    I have received a number of these calls.  The caller has an accent as if he was from India.  I and my husband have been hanging up when they call.

  20. Anonymous

    I first began receiving these type calls over 2 years ago.  I was told "they" their company identified as Microsoft Tech and Security, keep getting messages from my computer that I have many issues, problems and viruses.  If I'd sign on my computer she would tell me what to type in and the problems could be fixed.  Since I didn't initiate this phone call, I said "I'm not going to type in something from a stranger I did not call, and allow you to take control of my computer, access all my information and hack my machine!"  She insisted, and finally I hung up.  These same calls keep coming to me every other week, and though I even say I no longer have a computer, they insist I let them have access and they won't stop their calls.   There is "unknown" on the caller ID and these people sometimes have heavy accents, others do not.

    I now simply let the phone ring if it's not identified on caller ID or as they proceed with their "we are microsoft and you have many system causing crashing issue"…I laugh out loud in their ear, and then I hang up.   I've not found a way to stop their calls and just received one this past week again!  Maybe I should also see about placing a TAP on my phone line.   BE CAREFUL EVERYONE

  21. Anonymous

    I received a call from 1-520-877-3528 today claiming to be from Microsoft Tech Support in San Diego,CA. The male voice with a Middle Eastern accent, possibly of India or Pakistan decent, said that my computer had been hacked and that it was sending code to Microsoft. He started to attempt a guess at what operating system I was using by stating Windows 7. 8, 8.1.  I suspected it was a scam right away because I do not share personal information with Microsoft. I started asking a lot of questions. The person on the other end kept asking for someone else but because of his accent I could not understand him. When I said that was not me he apologized for disturbing me and hung up.

  22. Anonymous

    I received a phone call today from "Steve" at "Windows Support" telling me that they had been receiving error reports from my computer for the last few days and that there was concern that hackers were trying to get into my computer.  The phone call came in from a number in Tucson, AZ (520-624-0894) and I asked information to verify the information and he gave me a different number than the one that they called in on (732-508-0005).  He asked if I was in front of my computer and when I said no, he told me to log on.  I refused and decided to verify the information and found this information.  So, I thought I'd post here to let people know.

  23. Anonymous

    "Martin"  1-888-569-0037 Go Techs, (247 is his I.D.) called. Needed on my computer to verify some things.                                          The bottom line is, Microsoft does not call you.That is all you need to remember.

  24. Anonymous

    I've just been contacted by a certain "Jerry Rogers" from Microsoft New Jersey who suggested that my computer was in danger of crashing at any moment. He was able to confirm my name, address and telephone number and then asked me to type in http://www.join.me which I didn't do and please don't do it if you read this. I'm assuming that the link would have asked me for some information that would have allowed "Jerry" to do malevolent things to my computer or use my data. I asked him for his phone number which he gave me as +1097420100. I won't be returning his call. I'm sad for the victims who take this help as genuine.

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