Mom always said, “Be polite to strangers,” but this sort of stranger abuse has gone on long enough. When automated robocalls start bombarding your home phone dishing up scare tactics, it’s time to scream or slam down the phone.
The message repeats twice—to communicate a false sense of urgency.
“This is an emergency call that the license key of your Microsoft Windows is expired. To renew license key, call 1-800-290-1836,” a bland voice says.
“Yes. This is a scam. This is not a legitimate call from Microsoft. Neither Microsoft nor our partners make unsolicited phone calls (also known as cold calls) about your computer security or software fixes,” the software giant warns on its blog.
It’s just the latest variation of the time-tested tech support scam. It’s estimated that these scammers rake in tens of millions annually. Last November, the Federal Trade Commission and several attorneys general investigated and shut down just one scammer who had collected $17 million!
Don’t fork over a dime. Instead, check the caller’s number online at 800notes.com or other websites that track unknown toll-free numbers—many trace back to scams—and you’ll find numerous gripes.
One Linux user wrote on 800notes.com knowledgeably about the scam which targeted his home which contained no PCs. Only PCs run the Windows operating systems.
“They seem to be running out of cheap fake call center employees, using a recorded message and hoping the vulnerable will phone them back. Saves losing time on people who are in the know but are willing to mess with them,” the user posted.
These scammers are counting on the fact that PC users won’t realize that most software license keys don’t expire. While Microsoft has shifted to a system of annual payment for items like Microsoft Office suite and those licenses will expire if you don’t renew, the operating system on your computer should never expire. However, Microsoft will eventually stop supporting it or patching its security holes in the OS as they did with Windows XP several years ago.
Share news of this scam with friends and older relatives. At its core, this scam is no different from fake computer virus scams, fake utility bill scams or IRS fake lawsuit scams in circulation but most of us are not fluent in computer technology. That makes us more prone to fall for a scam that threatens our computers could stop working overnight if we don’t ‘renew.’