March , 2019

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CHICAGO, IL – The Microsoft tech support telephone scam was brought to the attention of the Better Business Bureau (BBB) over a year ago. Since that time phone complaints have hit peaks and valleys. Currently, the BBB is experiencing a new peak in the number of calls regarding this scam.

Most callers to the BBB report receiving calls from individuals with very thick accents who tell them Microsoft has been notified that there are errors or viruses on their computers that need to be removed. Not only are consumers complaining about the scam calls, but also the volume of voicemails being left on their phones. Some report as many as five or six calls per day.

“This scam is international in scope,” says Steve J. Bernas, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. “The Federal Trade Commission reports that scammers have tricked tens of thousands of computer users globally.”

With the exception of a few variations, the calls are the same. The scammer instructs the targeted victim to download a program that would allow remote access to their computer. Once access is gained, the scammer directs the computer owner to the systems event log. The event log shows common errors and warnings which are typical for most computers, but are enough to convince the owner there is a problem.

The scammer then offers to fix the problems for a fee which can range from approximately $200 – 400.

Who becomes a victim? According to Microsoft, “cybercriminals often use publically available telephone directories to find their victims.” With the information found there and often guessing the type of operating system the computer runs, the criminals are able to gain their victims trust.

Additionally, notes Bernas “This scam targets everyone, but senior citizens often become victims more readily because they are home to answer the phone.”

That was the case with Judith O’Day, a senior citizen in Durand, IL. She took the call and says “because I had received alerts on my computer, I thought what they were telling me was true.” She says “They convinced me to buy the “Silver Plan” a lifetime anti-virus program for $177.78.” After talking with her credit card company she found that she was lucky and had not lost any money even though she had provided her date of birth and credit card number.

How should you protect yourself if you receive a call from someone claiming to be from Microsoft:

  • Never provide personal or credit card information to a stranger.
  • Even though the caller claims to be from Microsoft, do not purchase any software or services.
  • If there is a fee associated with the service or subscription, simply hang up the phone.
  • Never give control of your computer to a third party unless it is a support team with whom you are a customer and can confirm that they are legitimate.
  • Take the callers information down and report it to local law enforcement officials and the Federal Trade Commission.

For more tips, visit www.bbb.org, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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Welcome to CopyLine Magazine! The first issue of CopyLine Magazine was published in November, 1990, by Editor & Publisher Juanita Bratcher. CopyLine’s main focus is on the political arena – to inform our readers and analyze many of the pressing issues of the day - controversial or otherwise. Our objectives are clear – to keep you abreast of political happenings and maneuvering in the political arena, by reporting and providing provocative commentaries on various issues. For more about CopyLine Magazine, CopyLine Blog, and CopyLine Television/Video, please visit juanitabratcher.com, copylinemagazine.com, and oneononetelevision.com. Bratcher has been a News/Reporter, Author, Publisher, and Journalist for 33 years. She is the author of six books, including “Harold: The Making of a Big City Mayor” (Harold Washington), Chicago’s first African-American mayor; and “Beyond the Boardroom: Empowering a New Generation of Leaders,” about John Herman Stroger, Jr., the first African-American elected President of the Cook County Board. Bratcher is also a Poet/Songwriter, with 17 records – produced by HillTop Records of Hollywood, California. Juanita Bratcher Publisher

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