Why You Should Never Accept a Call from a “Microsoft Technician”

While the majority of Internet scams happen on websites and email, some scams still live on through phone calls. One good example is the fake technician scam where someone phones up pretending to be a professional that wants to fix your PC. They’ll usually want to set up a remote connection in order to help. Don’t be fooled, however; they’re anything but a professional!

How the Scam Works

The scam itself is very simple. You receive a call from a stranger who claims that they’re from Microsoft. They’ll continue on, saying that they detected that your PC has suffered a specific issue. Perhaps they found malware on it, or your security is about to expire. Either way, they’ll push to gain access to your PC. They may ask you to visit a site to help with remote connections and give you details of how to connect.

microsoft-technician-connect

Before you follow their demands, it’s crucial to realise that these calls aren’t genuine. The main motive of these calls is to get onto your PC where the scammer can cause an actual problem that will require fixing. The problems they discuss are totally fabricated, and your PC is likely fine. Don’t even consider allowing them to access your PC; simply hang up and leave it be.

How Do I Know If It’s a Genuine Microsoft Technician?

Identifying a Microsoft technician is easy: If they’re phoning you, they’re not a technician! Microsoft will never call you in order to warn you about a malware infection or expired key. The only times you’ll really talk to a technician is if you called Microsoft support yourself. If you haven’t called technicians recently, and you get a call from them, it’s a scammer without a doubt. You can read more about how Microsoft handles their support via their page on the topic.

What Happens If You Let the Scammer In?

If you allow the scammer to do their “job,” they’ll try to initiate a remote connection to your PC. This typically involves going to a site such as GoToAssist to set up a remote session. Once they’re in, they’ll perform a fake security check which brings up a false positive. One of the favorite tricks these scammers use involves opening the command prompt and listing the file system, claim, it’s “doing a virus scan.”

microsoft-technician-stress

Once they have “found” a “problem,” they’ll discuss payment. They’ll ask for hundreds of dollars in order to pay for the support they never gave in the first place. Sometimes, in order to get the user to cough up, they’ll lock the system behind a password and claim it was the doing of malware, which can be “repaired” for a large fee.

What If I Actually Need Help?

microsoft-technician-help

If you actually need help with your computer, don’t get it from a random stranger phoning you! Try the Microsoft Support site, and initiate the help yourself. That way you can be certain that the person on the other end of the line is an actual Microsoft technician. Take control of your support and ensure it’s from a legitimate source!

Shady Support

If you ever receive a call from a “Microsoft Technician” when you had not specifically asked them for help in the past, do not do anything they say. They will never call you out of the blue, so you will know for sure that you’re talking to a scammer! Simply hang up, and don’t give out any details.

Have you or someone you know encountered this scam before? Let us know below.

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16 comments

  1. Microsoft must be mad at me for all the anti-MS things I have said about them. I guess that is why, in over 20 years of using PCs, I have never received a courtesy phone call from a solicitous Microsoft technician. I feel deprived! I feel slighted. About 15 years ago I went Microsoft-free and switched to Linux. I also screen my phone calls and let my answering machine pick up any calls from numbers I do not recognize. For all I know, my PC may be infected with all kinds of malware. Unfortunately, my answering machine has prevented these altruistic Microsoft techs from helping me. Machines, you can’t trust them no how!

  2. I was called by such a guy a week or two ago, he even prented he would pass his manager. The moment I asked them to proive they really were from MS … the call ended. One thing I don’t understand it how they manage to gete the CLSID of my system.

  3. My mother has received such calls in the past and still gets them.

    What’s ironic is that her last Windows machine was replaced a few years ago with a brand new Linux machine built by me and my brother. He’s an IT professional, an MSCE, and a Linux guru (like yours truly). When Mom’s Windows machine went TU we decided to help her make the switch to Linux. (Mom’s pretty tech savvy, so the change to Linux didn’t bother her and she’s come to like it. It has never had the issues she used to see with her Windows box.)

    Even with all of that she gets calls from a ‘Microsoft Technician’ claiming there’s a problem with her computer. I’ve spoken to one of these ‘technicians’ when I’ve happened to be visiting her when the call came in. The ‘technician’ tried to convince me that “just because she’s using Linux doesn’t mean we can’t see the problem.” At that point I asked to speak to his senior supervisor.

    He hung up.

    1. Same story here. As I actually use LINUX it was a quick job getting rid of them when I told them I didn’t use WINDOWS. They asked me what I did use and he quickly vanished when I informed him.

  4. I was duped when I got a locked up screen on my PC where the flashing box said call this number for Microsoft Support. Nothing worked, including trying to change tabs, turning off and on. So I called. I didn’t want to trust them. I asked for an employee number, asked to speak to a supervisor, asked about location, asked about fee schedule, etc. I eventually let them have access to me set. That was years ago and they still at times call me (when a real tech support person is helping me) to scream that someone has taken control of my set and that I need their help!! Same guy..HELP!!!!
    I never paid the $650 they asked for. But even changing routers a few times, I can’t shake this guy..the original router that is sitting in my garage in a box is still the number one selection for my network???? HELP

  5. I get this scam a LOT. The caller always starts by telling me he (it’s always a guy and he always has an accent) is calling about my “Windows computer”. I either say I don’t own any computers that run Windows or else I ask “Which one?” If I use the latter approach (just for my own fun), he will always say, “Ma’am, your Windows computer.” I repeat, “Which one? I have at least half a dozen in my house” (Ok, a slight exaggeration, but still….” He will then usually then say, “I’m calling about all of them,” in which case I can drag this out as long as I like (*giggle*), or else he will just hang up on me (oh horrors!) Either way, I NEVER let the caller lure me into doing ANYTHING with my computer!

  6. Linux is a good line of defense against these crooks.

    If they call when I’m in a timewasting mood, I’ll waste their time so they don’t call someone else. “I’m booting up now, it takes a long time because of the viruses” and go take a nap, read some mail, or take the phone into the bathroom and give them some sound effects, and when they finally get impatient I ask if their mother knows he’s a criminal, and I run Linux ….. “—-click”

  7. Any calls received from these scammers can be turned into satisfying therapeutic episodes by a number of methods including:

    1. Guide them into a conversation about how you can know they are genuine. They’ll start a spiel from their script which is often read badly but can go on for a while in order to convince you. When they start just leave the phone with them talking and walk away.

    2. Engage them in a conversation but talk quietly and tell them we have a bad line and ask them to turn the volume up if they can. When they do, at some point in the conversation scream loudly down the phone to deafen the b*stard.

    3. Start an argument with them. Easily done if you tell them they are not Microsoft, they will defensively try to claim they are or are connected and authorised by MS. When they do this start shouting expletives as foul as you can about them. their parents, their families, their job, their employers and anything else you can think of.

    This kind of primal therapy can work wonders and leave you with a warm satisfying glow.

  8. I am getting regular calls from “Anonymos” which the scam for Microsoft telling me that my Microsoft license will be cancelled if I don’t dial “1”. The number that comes up is my home number which is funny that I would be calling myself on my home number. Anyway I don’t answer the phone like you stated.
    Thanks!!

  9. Thank you for the head’s up. Yes, they almost got me once but I don’t own a credit card and they turned pretty nasty about it like I was wasting their time!

  10. I got one and asked the guy how he could in good conscience scam so many people. His reply was, “It’s a job.” Then asked him if he thought Jesus would be proud of what he was doing. He hung up.

  11. I too play the part if I have time. I use the which computer is it? I have several, or I’m in corporate IT, and I must know which of the hundred computers and servers has the problem, and I’ll need your phone # so I can call back after I notify my department of the problem. They won’t give their # so: Please hold on while I put you on hold and call them. (keep holding..,..). It’s also fun to ask what the problem is and if a virus, which virus is it?

  12. It happens. When someone calls and claims to be from Microsoft Tech Support, i simply say “no you’re not” and end the call abruptly. (It was more satisfying when you could slam your phone down to hang up, though!)

  13. Col. Panek, I do the same thing.. It’s actually great because you know they’re scammers and you tie up their phone lives so they can’t bother anyone else .
    Nothing like making a fake Microsoft employee mad!

  14. Knowing that a caller pretending to be from Microsoft – or, in fact, any organisation, given that none of them would voluntarily call me – is a fake, I find a quick burst of obscenity followed by a prompt cutting off the call helps me to help them see some perspective.

  15. A great big message took over my screen, claiming it was from Microsoft and that it detected dangerous malware in my system. I could not clear the screen. The message went on to say that I had to call Microsoft at a given phone number to unlock my computer and delete the malware. I didn’t know better and I did what they said. Long story short, I let them in and after they thoroughly messed my system up, they charged me over $200 to “fix” it. I paid it and they messed around for a while more and declared that everything was alright. I got a call from my bank the next morning verifying that I approved a credit card payment to a foreign country and I said I did not. I got another message from “Microsoft” and this time I shut down and the message went away. I ran Malwarebytes and it cleaned up whatever mess they created. After they called me a few more times, I told them that I had the phone company put a trace on my phone to track them down and that was the end of that.

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