I’m going to repeat this one because we haven’t yet gotten the message out to everyone as we are still seeing folks come in with it.
First, Microsoft DOES NOT send you emails, or popups or web pages that say call us so we can fix your computer. It does not. So if you think you are talking to Microsoft – it’s a scam. Microsoft generally hides from you, unless they want money. So calling “Microsoft” is calling Scammers. Also, the FBI does not lock your computer – they are busy doing other things!
Second – many other companies are also imitated by bad guys and the most common are: Norton, HP, & AOL. So be suspicious of anyone that contacts you directly that you did not initiate dialog with!
Here is how this scam works.
The scammers compromise a website. They do this to websites that may be legitimate but not have as much security as they should. Or maybe the brother of the owner of that small business didn’t change the default password. The scammers take control of this website and they redirect traffic to their own web page that says some version of “your computer is infected call this number so we can rip you off.” sometimes it comes with alarming beeps that make you want to shoot your computer with a double barreled shotgun.
Once you call the number they pretend to be whoever they want. They try to figure out how computer savvy you are before deciding the best approach to scam you.
Then they tell you all the scary things to make you buy from them:
. Your computer is infected
. You are spamming the world
. Multiple other people are on your computer
. Your computer has 100+ errors that need to be resolved
. Only they can save you – they are MICROSOFT AFTER ALL!!!
. Puppies and kittens will die if you don’ let them do what they want to your computer.
They sometimes show you the “Event Log” contained in your computer. The “Event Log” is a log the computer creates of all the errors it encounters. It is a place technicians go to see what might be causing the PC issues. It is, by definition, an error log. It is supposed to have errors/warnings. That does not mean they are of any concern.
For example, if your power goes out, the PC might write that event as “hard drive not responding”. Well yea, it has no power. Do you need a PC repair – NO. You just need power again and everything is fine and dandy.
If your computer can’t print, it might write an error. You might restart the printer and it is fine. The event in question remains in the event log forever. So over 3-6 years, you have lots of entries in the log. IT MEANS NOTHING. But the scammers open this event log and they show you all the red X’s and Yellow Exclamation points with computer jargon you don’t know and they say look, look (where you have never looked before) the sky is falling, the sky is falling!!! It is just a way to scare you into thinking something is wrong.
If they can get you to believe this, they tell you they can fix it for you and they talk you into letting them get on your computer.
At this point they then try to get money from you for the “repair”. While they are on your computer, while they have your data in their hands, while they have the ability to break things really well – they ask for money.
If you decline, while they are on your computer, any number of things can happen:
. nothing – they get off
. They install a virus
. The encrypt all your files so that you have nothing left unless you pay a ransom
. They “brick” your computer – after they leave it won’t start at all.
. They leave monitoring software on your computer that reports your passwords to all accounts to them.
We have seen many things at this point.
If they can, they convince you that you need to pay them $175 – $250 (the first call). Once they get money from you, they will attempt to get more!
Even if you don’t do business with us, PLEASE don’t do business with scammers. You are always better doing business with a local business that you can trust, A business that you can drive to, that you have legal leverage with and that supports your local economy as well! Money spent with India doesn’t help our local economy at all!