Not everyone phoning you is your friend. Especially if the call is from someone telling you that your Microsoft Windows computer is connected to their server and contains viruses that need to be corrected. In fact, the person on the other side is most probably part of a major scam trying to obtain enough information about you to enable withdrawing your money into their pockets.
I have received such phone calls from unidentified sources at three different occasions during the last 4 months. In all cases it was a person speaking English with an Asian accent. The last call was earlier this week. Mr Fraudster started off by asking to speak to the owner of the Windows computer that is connected to their servers over the internet. His tone was aggressive, explaining that the computer contains a virus that is now affecting their server and the virus needed to be removed.
Luckily for me I had a few advantages over this fraudster. Firstly I do not have a Windows computer, I prefer Mac. Secondly I have 30 years experience in the computer industry and I know technical jargon about computers that this idiot probably has never heard of. So I asked the guy to give me the IP address of the computer he was referring to. Without trying to explain the exact technical details, every computer connected to the internet through the Internet Protocol is assigned an IP address that uniquely identifies that machine on the internet. All IP addresses have a similar format. The guy answered by giving me a 5-digit number. I started laughing and told him the number he gave me was not a valid IP address. He then swore at me with the usual f-word combination and abruptly ended the call.
This is a very well-known scam. It is thoroughly documented on the Snopes.com website under the heading “Microsoft Impersonation Scam” (click HERE for further details).
You may not have computer technical background, but rest assured that if there is anything wrong with your computer affecting internet usage, your own internet service provider (that should be known to you) will deal with those issues, if any, and also rest assured that your computer is connected to the servers of your own service provider and not to some suspect Asian sounding guy’s servers.
Microsoft has issued a statement advising customers to “simply hang up if they receive a call of this nature and not to respond to any communications from these scammers.”
Please be careful and do not get caught by these fraudsters.
Author: Johan Vorster