This scam is almost a decade old but we still get frequent customer calls about it. This week I witnessed one of these calls take place while checking out at a local store. The store representative answered the phone and it was a caller claiming to be from Microsoft. The caller said they detected malware on the store's computer systems and that they could connect remotely to fix them. The store representative knew it was a scam and disconnected the call. They told me they frequently get these calls and emphasized how persistent these scammers can be.
Usually the scammer will ask for your credit card number to pay for the remote malware removal. What they actually do is connect to your computer to install malware that allows them full access to your computer at any time. They use this access to steal your passwords, credit card numbers, banking information and any other sensitive information you have on your computer.
If you ever receive a call like this, never give out any information to the caller. You can also report the attempt here: https://www.microsoft.com/reportascam
If you have already received a call similar to this and you allowed the caller to connect to your computer, there are several things you can do right now:
- Turn off your computer and if connected to the internet by a cable, unplug it (a scammer can turn your computer on by your ethernet port)
- Have your computer's Operating System wiped and reloaded
- Reset all your passwords
- Monitor your credit cards and bank accounts for any suspicious activity
- For even more security, consider contacting your financial institutions for replacement credit card and bank account numbers