I hope this reminder falls in the same category as “buckle your seatbelt” and just reinforces the diligence you already take to treat every offer from a stranger with a grain of salt. My saying it now was inspired by a warning in a WindowsSecrets (1) that there is a current rash of this type of scam.
Microsoft will not call you offering to fix a problem you didn’t know you had. (Neither will Dell, Google, Facebook, the IRS, or anyone else.)
If you get an unsolicited call, email, or popup on your screen referring to some critical issue that you must use their assistance to repair right now – it’s likely to be a scam!
- Do not click anywhere inside a popup.
- Do not install anything that you didn’t go looking for.
- Do not ever give anyone you don’t know access to your computer or your money.
The exception to these rules might be if you can’t open any of your files and the only thing you can see is a message that you need to send some anonymous entity money – usually via Bitcoin. This is a ransomware infection and it is probably real! In this case, immediately unplug your computer and contact your computer professional. Most likely, you are toast. The only solution is to pay up or start over with your backup data. Also, unfortunately, if you delay or attempt to get around this on your own, you run the risk of even corrupting the good backups you do have.(2)
Actually, some people may legitimately initiate the call such as to inquire or warn about an atypical credit card charge. If they ask you for privileged information such as an account or Social Security number, you are perfectly right to make them identify themselves. The best thing is to for them to be able to give you a piece of non-public information such as the first digits of a Social Security or credit card. For more ways to verify a caller, see the tips in "Should I Open This Email" (July 2012). If you independently have a contact number for them such as the support number on a the back of a credit card or 911 if they claim to be police; hang up and call them back. do not trust a callback number they give you.
Feel free to share this with all your friends and relatives who have a computer or telephone and use the internet.
(1) Here’s the open link for WindowsSecrets, because you never click to go to unknown websites from a link you might not trust: http://windowssecrets.com/newsletter/better-localcloud-management-for-big-data-sets/
And a couple weeks later Windows Secrets alerts us to a "support" scam directed against Dell owners: Support scam alert for Dell users: http://windowssecrets.com/field-notes/tech-support-scams-take-a-disturbing-turn/ (note: this is a 2-part article; scroll down past "Windows 10 ..." to read the report on the new scam).
(2) Which is where I make my pitch for you to buy your Carbonite automatic, online backup service from me:
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