I heard from another reader asking about a potential scam situation.
The reader received a voicemail message from “Microsoft” saying a subscription had lapsed and needed to be renewed. The caller left an 800 number for her to call for the payment.
She gave me the number, and by the time I called it back, it was already disconnected.
This is a good time to remind everyone of some common computer scams.
Computer companies will not call you to ask for money — ever. Microsoft does have products that have subscriptions, such as Office 365, but if your subscription expires, you’ll simply be locked out of the service until you renew. Microsoft doesn’t have collectors to hound you.
Likewise, Microsoft is not monitoring your computer for errors or viruses.
If you ever get a call from anyone saying your computer is doing something crazy and that you need to pay them to fix it, just hang up.
The first thing I did when the reader gave me the phone number was to Google the number and see if there was any information about who might be on the other end of the line.
In this case, the very handy website 800notes.com was the first search return. The page showed dozens of people who reported calls from this and similar numbers.
“Emergency call re: Windows key license expiring, I was to return call at 800-xxx-xxxx. Definitely a scam,” said one of the first entries.
Microsoft is very aware of these types of scams. The reason Microsoft is associated with so many of these attempts is due to the popularity of the Windows operating system. The scammers really don’t know what kind of computer you’re using — they are just guessing.
I don’t use Windows at my house, but I’ve received more than a few scam calls telling me Microsoft had detected viruses on my Windows PC.
Microsoft has a website of tips and links about online scams you can find at https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/safety/online-privacy/avoid-phone-scams.aspx.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Jim Rossman writes for The Dallas Morning News. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.