Friday, June 15, 2012


The phone scam I’m about to tell you about has been going on for years. However, there seems to be a major uptick in the calls recently. There has certainly been an uptick in people asking me if it’s legitimate. In fact, about a year ago, Microsoft did an actual survey and found that this scam ultimately costs victims an average of over $800.00. Seriously! Who in the heck would just hand out a credit card number to a stranger on the phone? Well, some of you would, is who! According to the survey about 15% of users in the US, Canada and Ireland have received calls from the scammers so chances are good that you will eventually hear from these sleazebags.  

I have a hypothesis that the scammers have zeroed-in on the fact that the Shoals area has a preponderance of elderly people who are perceived to be more susceptible to these kinds of things. That might explain the uptick. Then again, we have lots of stupid people, too, so maybe they’ve picked up that.

So let’s take a look at this scam and see what these weasels are up to.

You may receive a phone call from someone claiming to be a Microsoft employee. They may tell you that they are a member of Microsoft’s "Global Service and Support Provider" or some other impressive name. They might claim that the call is in response to one of those “Send Error Report” messages that most of us see from time to time. They might inform you that they have detected that your computer is cramming the internet with spam or is sending our porn images. They will generally ask you to click on this and that and will often produce colorful language when you inform them of various errors and or files are really meaningless. The fact is that it is not possible that someone like this could possess this kind of information about your computer.  Your number was simply dialed randomly.

It won’t do much good to call the authorities as there is not much they can do. The calls generally come from foreign countries and have disguised their caller ID number to make it look like they come from the US or even locally.

If you’ve been taken in by this scam, there is a glimmer of hope. According to the real Microsoft, about 3/4ths of the victims reported that they were able to recover at least some of their losses when they contacted the bank or credit card company.

The bottom line?  If you ever, ever get a random call from anyone claiming you that you have computer problems, hang up hard enough to bust the scammers ear drum. These bottom feeders are very good at what they do. If you know any really old (or really stupid) people, please tell them to be on guard.

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