Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman Tuesday issued a warning to New Yorkers based on numerous complaints received by his office from consumers who have been contacted recently by scam artists posing as representatives of Microsoft or an organization allegedly affiliated with Microsoft, such as P.C. Solutions.
In some cases, the callers will even spoof the telephone’s Caller ID to identify the source as “Windows Support.”
The scam artists attempt to gain remote access to consumers’ computers by claiming their units are running slowly because they are infected with malware or viruses or need additional software, which the scam artists offer to remedy.
After gaining access, scammers are able to extract a fee – as much as $300 – by obtaining credit card information over the phone, or by directing consumers to enter PayPal, bank or credit card information on a website the scammers control.
“Consumer fraudsters come in all shapes and sizes, from false advertisers and illegal pet sellers, to identity thieves and predatory lenders. Unfortunately, we can now add scammers posing as computer experts to that list,” said Schneiderman. “There are simple, easy steps New Yorkers can take to identify these calls and avoid becoming victims of this increasingly prevalent scam.”
The scammers first walk consumers through various steps on their computers to display Microsoft’s event viewer log, which contains a log of red-marked “errors,” yellow “warnings” and other events that have occurred on the computer. Such events are usually inconsequential notifications and are not evidence of a virus.
However, the con artists claim they demonstrate that the PC is corrupted and will sustain further damage or be susceptible to “hacking” if additional action is not taken.
The consumer is then given instructions that ultimately allow the scam artist to access the computer remotely. Once the perpetrators gain access, they typically advise consumers that they must pay a fee, which can be as much as $300, to have the problems corrected or their Microsoft warranty extended. The scammers collect payment by obtaining consumers’ credit card information over the phone, or by directing consumers to fraudulent websites to enter credit card, PayPal, or other personal or financial information online.
The perpetrators appear to be operating from overseas and often speak with heavy foreign accents.
If you get such a call, hang up. Do not give out passwords or any financial information.