Support scams

A scenario is always the same - someone (in most cases claiming to be a Microsoft employee) calls you at home, either via a landline phone or Skype, and claims there are viruses on your computer. You may be asked to download and run or buy a security product, which in reality is a fake antivirus scanner.

The scam always starts the same way: the phone rings at someone's home, and the caller – usually with an Indian accent – asks for the householder, quoting their name and address before saying "I'm calling for Microsoft. We've had a report from your internet service provider of serious virus problems from your computer."
Source: Virus phone scam being run from call centres in India (guardian.co.uk)
Earlier this week, I received a phone call via Skype on my laptop, the caller’s ID was “dralerthelpzc8” as in Dr Alert Help ZC8. The voice on the other end was automated, computerized and otherwise non-human, and alerted me that I had a virus that affects Windows Vista, Windows XP and Windows 7 and that I needed to visit a website to download an update. (This is somewhat similar to the situation where a live person calls and purports to being a Microsoft employee and wants to help you clean your computer. We want to point out that no Microsoft employee would ever call you in an unsolicited manner.)
Source: Doctor Who calling–on Skype, with malware
(Microsoft Malware Protection Center)

Additional reading:
- Support Scams (SWI Forums)
- Avoid scams that use the Microsoft name fraudulently
- Phone scammers target PC users with phony virus reports
- Tech Support Scams - Help & Resource Page (Malwarebytes Unpacked)
- Scammed pensioner told heavy rain caused computer virus infection (Sophos)
- Watch out for ‘Microsoft Tech Support’ scams (Windows Secrets)
- Dealing with Fake Tech Support & Phone Scams

Published: 18 May 2011
Updated: 27 December 2013