Microsoft: 'Windows Support' Phone Scams on the Rise

Brandon Dimmel's picture

Microsoft says the number of telephone scams involving fake Windows support technicians is on the rise. That means more criminals are executing schemes designed to dupe legitimate Windows users out of their hard-earned money.

Most of the scams involve cold callers claiming to work for Microsoft. In this scenario, the victim is told that their computer is infected with some kind of damaging malware. Based on this author's experience, oftentimes the calls originate overseas - usually from India, with the caller having a thick accent.

Scammers Sell One-time or Subscription-based "Solutions"

In many cases, scammers point to harmless or low-level log errors on the users' PC via the Windows Event Viewer tool in an effort to convince the victim that their computer is in infected. Scammers then ask for money in exchange for a solution which can involve a one-time "fix" or a fake security software subscription.

Microsoft noted in a recent blog post that these scams are becoming far more prevalent as time goes on.

"What's really alarming is that this type of scam shows no signs of slowing down," noted Microsoft customer service executive Kirsten Kliphouse. "Increasingly, we hear via our front-line support team, and even from friends and family, that these scammers are getting bolder, targeting not only individuals but also businesses." (Source:

How to Prevent Getting Scammed

Microsoft says it's important Windows users take several steps to protect themselves from these scams.

First: if you receive an unsolicited phone call about your computer's hardware or software, you should hang up immediately. If you stay on the line with a suspected scammer, listen carefully -- is there any evidence to suggest the caller knows or understands your system specifically? If not, hang up the phone.

Secondly, you should avoid giving out personal information, such as phone numbers, addresses, or credit card data -- especially when contacted unsolicited by a third party interested in discussing the Windows operating system over the phone.

What to Do if You Receive a Call

If you are called, there are steps you can take. US residents can report the incident by calling the Microsoft's help desk at 1-800-426-9400, or the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at (202) 326-2222. For Canada and the United Kingdom, contact anti-fraud organizations available through links found Microsoft's website.

For its part, the FTC says such reports "help us and our law enforcement partners detect patterns of fraud and abuse." (Source:

Microsoft adds that scammers tend to get quite belligerent when they don't get their way. It's a type of behavior most legitimate Microsoft customer representatives avoid at all costs.

What's Your Opinion?

Have you or anyone you know ever been contacted by a scammer claiming to represent Microsoft? If so, how did you or your contact respond to the call? Do you believe these scams are becoming a bigger problem? Finally, do you think Microsoft is doing enough to limit these kinds of threats?

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ruellej's picture

I usually get a call from the infamous "Indian Tech Support Squad" a few times a month, and I have to admit that I rather enjoy pulling their chain. My record for screwing them around is 24 minutes.

The best jerk-around I had with them was letting them have me install Teamviewer and then taking over my PC. When I then told them to get lost they told me that they infected my PC which I am sure they probably did.

I was expecting that to happen and so when the session was over I simply rebooted with my acronis rescue disk and simply restored my system to my recent backup.

gi7omy's picture

I let them rabbit on and act stupid (where's the start menu?) and then eventually tell them "Well, there isn't anything like that in my menu" and eventually tell them I'm running Linux

doppiotempo's picture

We also get them here in South Africa...
The first time they called me I just googled some of the rubbish phrases they used and came across numerous blogs reporting the scams. I told the "Vindows support" guy, "I believe this is a scam" and he promptly hung up on me. Since then, like ruellej, I have made it my mission to see how long I can keep them on the line (though I think my record is only about 15 min). My thinking is the longer I talk to them, the less time they have to scam someone who doesn't know better. The conversation is peppered with things like "oh no! Oh DEAR! Gosh, what am I going to do?" etc.

Sparkydog's picture

With telemarketers, I ask them if they will hold on a second, put the phone down and walk away.

Boots66's picture

Everyone seems to want to be nice. I am sorry but after finding out my youngest almost opened us up to these idiots, and that the other members of the house had received calls, I waited! Once I had the poor sap on the phone, I gave him hearing issues for a bit when I let go a personal alarm into the phone mouthpiece - Gee - Haven't heard from any of them since - Gosh darn and gee whiz - Leeches!

dan_2160's picture

I've been surprised at how many of these scam calls I get. After being nice on the first two, I've found it much more satisfying to tell the caller to go f@ck himself and engage in other physically impossible acts. These jerks have no sense of decency and they deserve all the abuse their potential victims that hurl at them.

maxethan's picture

Although I did not waste 24 minutes of their time, I did (as soon as I realized it was these scum bags) recorded the call and play 'dumb'. I kept saying "OK" as if I were doing what he asked (some boiler call from India, thick male India accent). I then, finally said (not listening to his attempts to have me stop) "OK, I will hit delete C now, like you said too". the dork says "No problem sir" to every situation. When I then said "Why did the screen go black and it now says 'please insert system disk'?". He says "No problem sir, we will help you with that. Let me ask my manager" I get put on hold and then a moment later, they hung up... I thought that was it, but about 5 minutes later some other male called back (the manger I guess) and I again said "Why does it say please insert system disk, what did you guys have me do!" (I was silently laughing hysterically). The Manager says "No problem, we can help you with that" and then he then hung up too.

I have not heard back from these idiots in months... (I did get a first call about a month before that one, and had no time that time, so I blew them off). I should upload the recording to you tube, it was pretty funny... My son (teenager) heard it and was like "Wow dad, that was awesome" that is a heck of a compliment from a teen...