In recent months we’ve seen an uptick in customers bringing in computers due to popups or messages they’re seeing that say they need to call Microsoft. We do our best to educate our customers about these kinds of scams, and that’s also why we’re making this post. Let’s start this off clear and simple:

  • Microsoft will never lock your computer
  • Microsoft will never deactivate your Windows license, if it’s legitimate
  • Microsoft will never ask for access to your computer
  • Microsoft messages will not be full of spelling and grammar errors
  • You won’t get a “virus alert” from Microsoft
  • If a message pops up on your computer IN ALL CAPS and has 100 !!!!! exclamation points, it’s probably a scam. Messages from Microsoft and other Windows applications are not written like that.

 

Don’t let all the capital letters and exclamation points make you rush. If you see a message like this or get a call from someone claiming that your computer is at risk: Take a step back, take a few breaths, then ask if this makes sense. Never call the number on the screen. If you’re legitimately worried about the message on your computer, call Microsoft directly (but again, not the number on the screen!). Get their phone number from their support website.

 

The image you see at the top of this post was a screenshot we took from a customer’s computer just this week. They were simply trying to go to ebay, and in doing so ended up in a Google search for ebay (instead of typing in www.ebay.com directly) where there was a fake ad for ebay that when clicked on lead them to the above shown web page. It started beeping loudly at them and partially locked up their computer. When they tried to close the webpage it simply went full screen and prevented them from doing anything else. Luckily they were quick thinking to call-us and not the phone number on the screen. We told them to shut the computer down (even though the message said not to) and it went away.

Scammers will create a website/image/ad that will show up on certain websites or pop-up in the corner of your screen and try to scare you in to contacting them. They¬†will also often claim to either be from Microsoft or be a “Microsoft Partner”. If you call the number on these kind of messages, they will either ask for money to “resolve the problem” or they’ll ask for access to your computer to “fix it”. If they ask to access your computer, they’ll have you download and install a tool that gives them access to your computer. After which, they’ll often tell you of all these “problems” with your computer and ask for payment to fix them. If you tell them no after they already have access, sometimes they’ll lock your computer and prevent you from using it until you pay them. This is why it is important that you don’t give anyone you don’t know or don’t trust remote access to your computer.

 

If you ever see a message like this on your computer and want help determining if it is real or not, please feel free to give us a call. We’ll provide some free advice based on what you’re seeing. We’d much rather handle a few phone calls then continue to see those in our community continue to fall for these kinds of scams and lose hundreds of dollars.

 

Read more on these kinds of scams from the FTC.