About 10 days ago I shared with you a story about a friend’s encounter with a popular phone scam that includes a caller claiming to be from Microsoft.  The intent of the phone scam call is to either gain access to your computer or to personal information such as a credit card, etc.

Well your response to that post has been tremendous over the last 10 days.  As of this posting that story has 61 comments, 204 Facebook Likes and has been viewed by over 17,700 people.

Now I know those are not Earth shattering numbers from the big sites but for WindowsObserver.com they are the highest ever for any single post in the same period of time.

Based on reading from the comments that have been left on the story this scam is an issue that has impacted many of you and/or your family members. Many of you have also gotten very creative in how you have dealt with the scam calls.

Here are a few of the ideas shared in the comments:

  • I do my best to keep them on the phone for as long as possible. mis-understand anything they ask me to do If asked to type “www.” I type “wwwdot”.
  • Just leave them high & dry by telling them your computer is an Apple Mac.
  • I do pick up and answer by saying “International Telephone Fraud Department – please hold the line while we trace your call.”
  • Took a page from the movie ‘Hackers’ and told the caller that I was *so* glad he called because the BLT drive on my computer was giving me an HoR error. When they said it was a virus, I replied, ‘My *bacon, lettuce and tomato* drive has a *ham on rye* error because of a virus?
  • I have recently taken steps to significantly reduce the incidence of these calls. OptOut UK has been helpful.
  • Another thing I used to do for a laugh at their expense was to pretend I was doing what they asked, then give them bogus information back! I had them laughing at one point!
  • I just simply said that I couldn’t understand English and they hung up.
  • I try and see how long I can keep them on the line by playing extra dumb and saying that the computer is downstairs. Each time Bob gave an instruction I said I’d have to go down to the computer. 5 minutes later I’d come back and ask another question.

I also received this comment via email that I will choose to keep anonymous:

I just read Richard Hay’s article about Microsoft scams. I wish I had read this article a month ago. I was a potential victim of the scam. what saved me was I did not have my credit card with me at the time of the call, so I could not provide the expiration date of the card, (I had given them the credit card #). I called my husband to ask for the number and he asked if I were sure I had been talking to Microsoft. That question haunted me, so I called Microsoft and sure enough they informed me that I fell prey to a scam. The techs at Microsoft fixed the problem before it got out of hand. My nerves were shot for a day, but I learned a lesson. Thank you for getting this message out there because there are many people out there like me who are easily taken in!

I am really sorry that they fell victim to this scam as well as everyone who commented that they, family and friends had also been taken by this scam.

As one commenter said – it is happening because it works on a lot of people.

So how do you combat it?

Here are my top five recommendations for dealing with this specific tech support phone call scam:

  • Install and run good anti-virus/anti-malware software and make sure you keep it up to date. This will increase the confidence you have in your own computer system being free of viruses and malware. There are plenty of free options out there such as Microsoft Security Essentials and AVG Free.
  • Do not engage in any phone call from someone claiming to be from Microsoft or any other tech company unless you initiated that request through an official channel or made the call yourself.  Hang up on them without further comment.  Unfortunately, they will just move on to the next person at this point but imagine what happens if everyone does this!
  • Ask if there are fees associated with the service that is being offered with the unsolicited phone call.  If they say there are then hang up the call as Microsoft or any legitimate tech company will not call you unannounced and ask for payment for tech services.
  • If you can get the phone number off your caller ID then you can always add it to your phone number blocking list.  If this is not readily accessible then you can call your phone service provider for assistance. Unfortunately asking them to remove your number from their database or using the Do Not Call registry will not help as they are already trying to scam you and likely do not follow those programs/requests anyway.
  • Finally, if all else fails, simply tell them you are wise to their scam and hang up.  Your perseverance will win out as you end up being a waste of their time and they will move on.

The anonymous commenter above also shared one other step that can be taken if you were to get this phone call scam at home and it is exactly what my friend did when she got the phone call herself.

Stop and ask someone for advice or assistance. Call a close friend, a spouse or a co-worker. Do not be embarrassed by doing so because we all have things we are unaware of or do not know.  I would much rather ask a question of someone than get taken advantage of by a scam.

Thanks for all the comments and helping to bring awareness of this scam to an even broader audience.  Stay safe out there.