Better Business Bureau warns that consumers in multiple countries have received phishing phone calls impersonating Microsoft. BBB serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington confirms the scam has hit the region.
How does the scam work? The caller impersonates a Microsoft representative and claims there is a serious virus or issue with the consumer's computer. The caller may warn that if the problem is not solved, the computer will become unusable. To "fix" the problem, the consumer is directed to visit a website or download a program that gives the caller remote access to log in to the computer. In some cases, the consumer is then offered a preventative service for a fee.
The scam: the caller does not work for Microsoft. If the consumer takes the suggested actions, they give a stranger access to the data on their computer; putting them at risk for identity theft.
Microsoft's website states, "We do not send unsolicited e-mail or make unsolicited phone calls to request personal or financial information or fix your computer."
Warning: Be wary of unsolicited calls.
- Confirm the problem: Never give personal or financial information to an unsolicited caller. If they claim to be from a specific entity, contact them using a trusted method and find out if there is a real issue. Don't download attachments or trust e-mail links.
- Don't agree to purchase over the phone: Ask for information in writing. Read the details and research the offer. If you still want to purchase, credit cards tend to have more protections than debit cards.
- Report fraudulent activity: Complaints can be filed with the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov. Internet and e-mail scams can be reported to the Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov. Complaints about a specific business can be filed at www.bbb.org.
Victims of the Microsoft phishing scam should contact trusted tech support to ensure their computer is protected. Make sure system updates, virus and spyware protection are current. Contact financial institutions and notify them of the possible identity theft to change account numbers and passwords. Monitor accounts for unexplained charges. Check credit reports on a yearly basis for free by visiting AnnualCreditReport.com.