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Beware ‘Microsoft tech support’ calls and scam emails

Recent ransomware attack sparks upsurge in online and phone cons

Connexion staff and families have had five scam calls this week alone from people pretending to be Microsoft staff warning us of a ‘virus on your computer’ – do not be taken in by this con.

It comes in the wake of the Wannacry ransomware attack on Microsoft computers that nearly brought the UK’s NHS to its knees as well as affecting millions of PCs worldwide.

So, if someone you do not know calls you and says they are from Microsoft… they are not. Put the phone down and do not pick it up again for five minutes (in case they have left your line open).

  • They often use publicly available phone directories and may have details such as your name and other personal information.
  • They may ask you to go to a legitimate website to download and install software to ‘fix’ your computer.
  • They may also ask you to press Win (key) and R to access a Command Prompt screen and type in commands that ‘prove’ your machine is infected.
  • They want access to your bank details, pure and simple.

Microsoft, itself, warns of the danger on its website saying “Cybercriminals might call you on the telephone and claim to be from Microsoft. They might also set up websites with persistent pop-ups displaying fake warning messages and a phone number to call and get the ‘issue’ fixed. They might offer to help solve your computer problems or sell you a software license.”

If a pop-up warning appears on your screen saying you have a virus… close down your browser. Restart your computer if you feel it necessary.

In the UK, Which? magazine is warning of a rise in scam emails, usually addressed to customers of big-name companies and organisations such as BT.

If you receive an unexpected email, hover your mouse over the reply email address… often the one that is shown is not the one that appears in the information box or may be misspelled and heading to a different address.

To check, do not click any links in the email but go directly to your client space on the company website – where any real messages will be displayed.

Check BT’s scams website and the Microsoft scam advice site for information on how to protect yourself, your bank account and your computer.

As a first thought on online security… do not click the above links, search for the BT and Microsoft pages yourself to ensure you go to the intended page and not a dummy hidden behind the link.

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