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Letters to the Editor: A Public Forum
If Microsoft calls…Hang up the phone!
Wednesday, September 3, 2014 • Posted September 4, 2014

Dear Gerry

Please alert your readers to this scam that has recently appeared in Mason and has been around the world since 2009.

The scammer, who may be a man or a woman, who may or may not have a foreign accent, calls your home, asks for you by name, and posing as a computer security professional from “Microsoft” claims that your computer is at risk and that he can fix your problem. The caller appeals to the fear in you that you might be “infected” and claims to be able to show you exactly how to fix the problem. You are then instructed to go to a certain website and allow him access to your computer. Should you allow remote access to your computer the caller will then take over your computer, show you instances of “errors,” download malware and viruses to your computer and even ask for credit card information to pay for the service.

Friends, this is a scam, a hoax. Microsoft does not make unsolicited calls. If you allow this caller remote access to your computer it will lead to your computer being compromised for real with malicious programs being installed and allowing this scammer access to your computer with the potential to steal usernames, passwords, private personal data and ultimately to steal your identity. In addition if you give the caller your credit card number in order to “purchase” protection your identity will certainly be in danger of being stolen.

If you have been a victim of this scam, have allowed access to your computer and have given any information to the scammers you should change all the passwords on your computer, e-mail accounts, bank accounts and credit cards. It would probably be a good idea to use a different computer to change the passwords for your accounts as the scammer may be monitoring the activity on your compromised computer. In addition if you gave the scammer your credit card information you should call your card company and tell them so they can take appropriate action. Then you should contact your financial institutions to monitor your accounts for suspicious activity.

Finally you should check your computer or have your computer checked by a reputable technician for malicious programs which might have been installed.

So, my advice is: If Microsoft calls…Hang up the phone!

Thank you,

Kathryn Martin

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