Yesterday, I received a call from an individual purporting to be from Microsoft.  He informed me that I have “a lot of spam” coming from my computer because I have a virus / adware / malware and he would help me get rid of it if I let him log on my computer.  I played with him for a while, asking him lots of questions about what my problem was, how he knew about it, and how he was going to help me, before I suggested that he get a decent job where he isn’t victimizing people.  He fell silent.

Please don’t fall for this.  It is a total scam.

These thieves want access to your computer so they can install the malware they allege that you already have.  This gives them a way in to create all kinds of havoc with your computer.  Then they make money by pretending to be a tech support company and  charging you to “fix” the problems you now truly have – because they created them for you.

I have had several friends and clients impacted by this scam.  In one case, my friend paid $600 for her computer to be “fixed”.  She could have trashed the old one, bought a better one, and paid a legitimate technician $100 to retrieve her data from the “broken machine” for that kind of cash.  It could have been worse – once these guys get into your computer, they can get into all the computers on your network and they have access to personal information, banking information, credit card numbers, you name it.

Don’t let this happen to you.

As with all phone calls you receive out of the blue from a company that you do business with, you should be very careful to assure yourself that that is indeed who is calling you.  I recommend hanging up and finding the company’s phone number from their legitimate website (making sure it is their actual website) and contacting them using that number.  The same goes with emails.  If you get an email giving you a link to log into your account for whatever service but especially your bank, DON’T USE IT.  Go to the website you normally use to work with that company and log in that way. Never give out personal information on an unsolicited phone call or email.

Get some good virus protection and malware protection and use it.

Virus Protection:

Almost all Internet Service Providers (ISPs) will give you free virus protection.  Also, Microsoft’s Security Essentials does a great job and it is also free.  Pick one, install it, and make sure to agree to keeping it updated.

Also, be sure that what you are installing is a legitimate virus protection program and you are downloading your copy from a legitimate website.  For example, download Microsoft software from their website and download Symantec’s Norton Anti-Virus from their website — or follow the links from your ISP, if they provide free virus protection.  For example, Comcast currently provides free Norton Anti-Virus.

Malware Protection:

Malwarebytes is great!  It’s the first thing I run on an infected computer and it almost always fixes the problem.  Don’t be afraid to download it and try it yourself.