Thursday, March 22, 2012

Consumer Scams and Frauds: “Microsoft Certified Technician”

So far in 2012, officers have taken more than 60 reports regarding various scams. Most of the people filing these reports haven’t fallen victim to these scams but, sadly, there are still many who have. While 60 reports may seem like a lot, the truth is there are many others out there who have become a victim but are too embarrassed to report it.

Recently, we’ve taken a few reports from citizens advising of a scam involving someone posing as a “Microsoft Certified Technician”. The scammer would call the person to tell them Microsoft had received an error message and that their computer was badly infected. The caller would then try to get the person to get on their computer to direct them to a website that allows the scammers to take remote control of the computer.

The scammer will then spend time on the computer showing the victim where the “bogus” problems are. Their goal is to ultimately convince them to purchase unneeded software to restore their computer to its original state.

Once the scammer has remote access to a computer, they can retrieve passwords, credit card info and cause costly computer problems in the process.

Microsoft will NOT call people to warn them about viruses on their computers, and anyone who uses this tactic is simply trying to scam you out of your money. If you ever receive a call like this, we suggest you hang up and not respond to any questions.

Microsoft has issued several warnings in relation to this type of scam. They have also stated that the average loss for victims is around $875. Here are a few suggestions they provide to help keep you from becoming a victim in the future.

· Be suspicious of unsolicited calls related to a security problem, even if they claim to represent a respected company.

· Never provide personal information, such as credit card or bank details, to an unsolicited caller.

· Do not go to a website, type anything into a computer, install software or follow any other instruction from someone who calls out of the blue.

· Take the caller’s information down and pass it to the authorities.

· Use up-to-date versions of Windows and application software.

· Make sure security updates are installed regularly.

· Use a strong password and change it regularly.

· Make sure the firewall is turned on and that antivirus software is installed and up to date.

· Microsoft Security Essentials is a free antivirus product and is available at http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/security_essentials/default.aspx