How to spot fraudulent tech support phone calls

Betty writes:

I just received a call from a guy who said that my Windows was infected. He wanted me to sit in front of my computer while he fixed it. He became angry when I told him no and I hung up.

Thanks for writing, Betty. This type of call is a popular scam and you did exactly the right thing. Cybercriminals often use publicly available phone directories to call you and offer tech support. Once they’ve gained your trust, they might ask for your user name and password or ask you to go to a website to install software that will let them access your computer to fix it. If you do this, your computer and your personal information is vulnerable.

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

  • Never provide your credit card or financial information to someone claiming to be from Microsoft tech support.
  • Do not purchase any software or services.
  • 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.

Get more information on how to avoid tech support phone scams.

If you think you’ve been a victim of a tech support scam

If you think that you might have downloaded malware from a phone tech support scam website or allowed a cybercriminal to access your computer, take these steps:

  • Change your computer’s password. Change your Hotmail or other email password if you’ve given it to the caller.
  • Scan your computer with the Microsoft Safety Scanner to find out if you have malware installed on your computer. (This program automatically expires 10 days after you download it so it won’t clog your hard drive.)
  • Install Microsoft Security Essentials. (Microsoft Security Essentials is a free program. If someone calls you to install this product and then charges you for it, this phone call is also a scam.)
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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  1. Anonymous

    good afternoon, I have a big problem with my hotmail account that I have been active since the year 2007, please if you can help me thank you, my name is desiree daza rangel, someone tried to hack my account and stole my password, please help me thank you, I have important information there in the mail, thank you an answer …. 

    thanks before hand

  2. Anonymous

    I have also been receiving phone calls claiming to from Microsoft Global Services, saying a] my computer is badly infected, or b] that it has been hacked into by persons unknown.  Yesterday I received a similar call claiming

    to be from Windows Customer Relations, saying my computer needed attention. I

    have terminated all of these phone calls immediately.

  3. Anonymous

    I just had a call from a guy with an Indian accent who said he was from Windows technical support and my computer was downloading lots of viruses and malware. He told me he was calling to help me get rid of them and instructed me to start up my computer. I told him no way and hung up. Looks like I did the right thing.

  4. Anonymous

    I also received call today that started with a woman, which I could hardly understand.Saying they were from microsoft tech support.I kept asking why they were calling me, they said that I had a large # of notes back on problems and they were going to help me fix it. They went as far as to look up and see how many corrupt files I had,I kept asking then why I had not received an warning. He then wanted me to go on line that is when I told him I would not and that I would not, And ended the callwould need more security info  b

  5. Anonymous

    i keep getting phone calls from some people claiming to be from microsft and windows. they have been calling from private or undecernable phone #s. i keep telling them i don't have a computer and still they call

  6. Anonymous

    Thank you for all the warnings and suggestions to keep my computer free from cyber attack.  Frank

  7. Anonymous

    I had a similar phone call on 31st May 2012 telling me that hackers were attacking my cip address and that if I pressed the Windows button followed by R, the person calling could show me the hackers files. He became very aggressive when I said that I would not do so. He kept saying so you don;t want help then. He refused to give a name and id althought I kept asking for details, but eventually he hung up.

    I have had calls previously where the person just said that there was a problem with my computer and that they were phoning from Windows, so they are clearly becoming more sophisticated in their approach.

  8. Anonymous

    I have reveived several calls from these companies, it really baffles them if you say 'really that's strange I don't own a computer' the stutter and then hang up on you… it gets rid of them (You can smile later)

  9. Anonymous

    Just got an international telephone call today 12 June 2012 from a male with Indian accent. He knew my name and claimed he was from Microsoft saying my computer was infected with viruses and malwares and could crash at any moment. Hanged up immediately.

    So please be aware

  10. Anonymous

    I received a call on my home phone this afternoon and the person told me of virus on my computer and to turn on computer to help me. I asked if this person is from Microsoft and she told me some confusing explanation about being sort of an affiliate of Microsoft. I turned on my computer, turned it off and hung up the phone. This individual called back and I let the phone ring and after apx 3 or 4 rings the phone stopped.

  11. Anonymous

    Five days ago I received a call from a foreign speaking man who said he was a Microsoft employee and he had to access my computer immediately as it was going to crash in 15 minutes.  I noticed my phone id'ed the caller as private name and private number.  I told him I refused to allow him entry into my computer and hung up.  I wondered if there was someone I should notified but didn't have any good information to give.

  12. Anonymous

    I received a call from a man who also said he was from Microsoft and that I had downloaded some corrupt files. He wanted me to let him fix the problem. I told hime I used Microsoft Security Essentials and had just completed a scan I that there was nothing wrong with my computer. He became very insistant about fixing my computer. I told him that he was calling from an undisclosed place and I did not trust him and that I would contact Microsoft myself. Thank you for the email as I now know that I did the right thing.

  13. Anonymous

    Thanks for the update, unfortunately I also received one of these calls & thought it was part of a free scan to protect my computer that I had requested.  I did let them go through my computer to make it go faster so they said & goat hooked into signing up for 2 yrs. of service for a total of $387.  I have since wised up & am in the process of disputing the charge on my credit card.  I know it's too late for me but I'm glad other prople will be forewarned.

  14. Anonymous

    I have had 2 such calls in the past week.  I am temporarily in Canada.  I told both that I would have nothing to do with it and hung up.

  15. Anonymous

    Same story for me, a guy with Indian accent claimed to call from Worldwide PC safety center or something like that, claiming some safety issue with Windows. He wanted to go through the countermeasures step by step with me.

    I responded that I found it highly unlikely because I have a PC with Linux and no Windows. Oh, he said and then he mentioned my wife's name, and that there is a Windows PC in her name. This is correct, so I let him continue. He would call back when she is at home. I tried to find out more about him. He said that his name is Mike and that the safety center is located in Victoria, London.

  16. Anonymous

    I just had a call from a guy with an Indian accent who said he was from Windows technical support and my computer was full of errors and he was going to guide me to make the necessary "corrections". 

  17. Anonymous

    Received a phone call just 3 days ago from someone with an Indian accent who said he was from Windows Tech support and he asked me to "kindly turn on your computer and I will help you fix the issue which is causing your computer to report a Windows error to us. Your computer is infected with a virus and I will help you to remove it"

    I told him I had a dial up connection and no other phone line and he got frustrated.

  18. Anonymous

    I lkie the idea of saying you don't have a computer–or even better, tell them you have a Mac!

  19. Anonymous

    had the phone call and silly me let them scan my computer, i did not how ever pay when they asked for money my husband then spoke to them and they would not give phone number but this address

    32 chelsea square, london, sw3 6lq

    i am now doing a full scan but still worried with them scanning mine as we have 4 computer running off the same internet with same e-mail

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