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When the Windows Support Team Calls!

After another call from the helpful folks at the Windows Support Team this week, I decided it might be a good idea to explain how this group tries to scare people into purchasing their services to solve your nonexistent computer problem.  This scam has cost people thousands of dollars.

Here’s their basic script:

“Hi, I am (insert name here), calling from the Windows Support Center (or something similar).  Your computer is sending us reports that you have a (insert problem here).”

Now they will try to convince you of this by having you type in commands to prove that your system is really having (insert problem here).

(Insert name here) will instruct you to press the Windows Key and the letter R, and then you will be instructed to type eventvwr in the dialog box.  This will launch the Event Viewer.  The Event Viewer is part of every Windows operating system.  It provides details about the services running on your computer.  He’ll continue to instruct you, telling you to “Click on Custom Views.”  This will display a window with a list of errors and warnings.  I have posted mine for reference.

I know that these are normal errors and warnings, but the friendly folks from (insert company name here) are hoping you don’t know this, and that all these errors and warnings will convince you that there is a problem.  (Insert name here) states that this is a symptom of (insert problem here), but would like to check one more place to confirm.  This is their way of trying to gain your trust and prove that they are really trying to help you, when that’s not their intention at all.

Now he’ll have you press the Windows key and the letter R again and have you type inf in the dialog box.  This will launch the Inf folder.  Friendly (insert name here) will tell you these files are a result of  (insert problem here), confirming your system has (insert problem here).  The INF folder is a normal folder in the Windows operating system and contains driver files, not files related to (insert problem here).

Now they will offer to help “fix” your “problem”.  All you need to do is give them your credit card or visit a website.

This is a scam. Do not give them any information.

Microsoft will never call you about your computer issues. They have issued a statement about this scam here. Your computer is not randomly sending reports to Microsoft or (insert company name here).

After months of (insert company name here) calling to help me solve my computer issue and me poking at them I have learned a few things about their operations.

  • The friendly folks from (insert company name here) will insist this is not a scam and it was your computer that sent the messages.
  • They will be vague about the problem.
  • There is usually a lot of background noise on the call.
  • They only work within their script.
  • They tend to be very demanding and brash.

On average I usually receive a call a week, and it’s become a game for me.  To keep myself amused, I use the following strategies:

  • After thanking them for calling and explaining the problem, I tell them I run Linux/Mac
  • I let them know that I was unaware that my Linux/Mac were sending reports to Microsoft
  • I have them explain what the Windows key looks like – then ask why I don’t have a Windows key on my Mac
  • I ask for help on other Microsoft issues (printer, server, etc. problems)
  • I ask them questions that require very specific Microsoft knowledge – this usually frustrates them
  • I try to sell them something, like an electric dog polisher (thanks Steve Martin)

What do you do when they call you?

Notes:

*Insert Company Name Here – Esolve, Windows Support Company, Windows Technical Support or a variation of these.

*Insert Name Here – Tends to be a generic name.  I have never had a female call.

*Insert Problem Here – Usually they claim it’s a virus or the system is running slow.  Or the system is running slow due to a virus. 🙂

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