An ongoing scam has been identified, wherein an error message claiming to be from Microsoft pops up on a computer, informing the user that their device has been infected or hacked. The unsuspecting user is then instructed to call a phone number in the pop-up. If the number is called, the person at the other end of the line instructs the user to purchase gift cards or bitcoin, process a wire transfer, and relay the information to them. Sometimes, these individuals have controlled the user’s computer and accessed their personal and banking information. In other cases, people have been told to withdraw cash and mail it to an address that the scammer provides.
The scammers deceive people into thinking their computers have been hacked or infected and offer to fix the problem for a fee. If people allow them access to their computers, the scammer can install malware, ransomware, or other unwanted programs that can steal personal information.
If you receive this pop-up message on your computer, DO NOT respond to the phone number listed. Instead, take your computer to a reputable repair shop to have it checked for viruses and other potentially harmful programs.
Remember, Microsoft alerts do not include a phone number.
As per Microsoft:
- “Microsoft does not send unsolicited email messages or make unsolicited phone calls to request personal or financial information or to provide technical support to fix your computer. Any communication with Microsoft has to be initiated by you.
- If a pop-up or error message appears with a phone number, don’t call the number. Error and warning messages from Microsoft never include a phone number.
- Microsoft technical support will never ask that you pay for support through Bitcoin or gift cards.”
You can help Microsoft stop scammers by reporting tech scams to:
Used with permission from Microsoft
You may also:
- Report a suspicious email, text or pop-up ad to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at ReportFraud.ftc.gov
- Contact the company who is being faked using a phone number or website you know is real and request verification of the suspicious message.
- Stay prepared. See the FTC’s tips for recognizing and avoiding phishing scams