Consider this scenario: You receive a call from an unknown local number. The person on the line has a heavy accent and claims to be a technician working for Microsoft. They go on to say that your computer has been infected by a virus and claim that you are in danger of losing all your personal data, or that your friends and family could also be potentially affected. They speak quickly, use confusing terminology, and insist on taking control of your computer to eliminate the virus. Frightened of what may happen, you agree to pay them a considerable amount of money to remove the infection. After a few clicks and keystrokes, this stranger now has access to your computer and personal files. They run bogus software, populating thousands of false errors and malicious files, making it appear as though you do, indeed, have a virus.
This scenario plays out all too often, and is, without a doubt, the most frequent inquiry we receive at our computer repair shop in Pacific Grove. We immediately instruct our clients to hang up the phone and power down the computer if the stranger is still connected. This scam is rampant and these fly-by-night companies are a dime a dozen. I have heard numerous accounts of malicious technicians extracting personal information, or instructing clients to log in to their personal bank accounts. Think of it this way, you wouldn’t let a perfect stranger into your home, so please don’t allow them access to your computer.
It is important to know that Microsoft does NOT call customers or monitor viruses on personal systems. If someone calls claiming to be from Microsoft to remove a virus, it is definitely a scam. Hang up the phone, and do not entertain any further communication. If you still have a suspicion that you may have a virus, call a trusted local computer repair shop that can run thorough scans and maintenance.
I hope this information empowers you and your family in the New Year.Happy computing.