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Cold calls from Windows

Phone calls from “Windows” to help you with security problems should give you such a warm feeling for the big guy from Redmond, right? When you have paid a decent amount for a computer and then someone from a respectable sounding company calls you to let you know that your computer has alerted them to security problem, you feel you should trust them, especially when they say they are calling from Windows technical support.

Welcome to one of the latest scams from overseas, cold calling you to tell you that your computer is full of security holes, that they received alerts from your Windows computer and that they would like to show you indications of those critical errors. And, then you can pay them to fix them all.

They work by asking you to open a program called Windows Event Viewer and focus your attention on “Warning” and “Error” items, telling you that these items refer to security problems and virus activity in your computer. An aside here, Windows Event Viewer tracks many things going on in the background, with Microsoft defining an “error” as “… a significant problem, such as the failure of a critical task … For example, an Error event is logged if a service fails to load during startup.” This might be something as simple as some old software no longer starting up that you have not actually uninstalled, say a now replaced printer. And, there are all manner of warnings that are recorded by Windows.

But, the Event Viewer won’t track virus activity, any decently designed virus or malware will try to avoid generating warning events, that would make detection too easy, wouldn’t it. Yet, you will be “convinced” that these events indicate dire security problems with your computer and they are there to help.

Then they will ask you to buy a service or software package from them to actually fix these errors. And, then they will direct you to install software to give them remote control of your computer to “help” you solve this problem, once you have paid.

When you question them about what is going on, be prepared for mumbled off shore English, and scarily worded declarations of what will go wrong with your computer if you don’t fix these problems right now. You may think to ask for a call back number, that number will never be a real Microsoft, or Dell, or McAfee or … phone number. Google it and don’t be surprised by what you find.

Earlier this month, the FTC announced that they were going to crack down on these scam callers. I wish them luck.