Our friend Patti called and said someone called her and said they were from Microsoft Tech support. And they had heard that she was having trouble with her installation of Windows. She started to give them personal information and then thought - What's up? Is this for real?
This is scary. And it happens all the time. Rather than spending any more time with the crooks on the phone, Patti hung up and gave Doug a call. He spent some time with her computer to verify that they hadn’t added anything inappropriate to her computer, but their scam is to convince you that they know something about your you and/or your computer, and then charge you money to fix the “problem”. In a worst-case scenario, you might be convinced to allow them to make a remote connection to your computer (this always requires some effort on your part, so they have to convince you that they’re genuinely trying to help) and once that happens, you’ve lost control over what happens.
Let’s make this clear: No reputable software company will ever contact you, for any reason, with the intent of providing technical support. If you get a call offering to provide technical services, it’s a scam and you should immediately hang up.
Their operation was interesting: They asked Patti to go through some steps that made it look like they knew what they were doing—they had her dig around in her settings, and found a long string of numbers she was to read them, indicating that they had the correct computer. The only catch was that the numbers are the same for every installation of Windows! Luckily, Patti caught on before giving them money or allowing them to connect to her computer remotely.
If something like this has happened to you, or if you think your computer may have been infected with some sort of malware, you’re best off contacting a local computer professional for help. Nevada County provides a number of qualified technicians—we, of course, suggest that you contact Malibu Software Group at malibusoftwaregroup.com, or call 855-478-0500 x2. In any case, don’t fight it out alone—get professional help.