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Beware of "Microsoft Tech Support" Scams

Con artists all over the world are bilking big bucks out of unsuspecting Microsoft customers — and they're duping some savvy Windows users in the process.

It's turned into an epidemic. The scammers are knowledgeable, sophisticated, glib, and oh-so-convincing. Know the warning signs. You may be next.

Here's a recent instance of such a scam reported by a Windows user:

A company called Tech XXX is soliciting business as a representative of Microsoft. Their phone number is 1-877-753-XXXX. The tech called, told me he was responding because of a Windows problem I posted on a forum, and offered to fix my machine.
He was very convincing. He gave me a tracking number of EVENTVWR. The tech convinced me to set up a Remote Assistance connection, and he proceeded to go through my computer remotely, eliminating "dangerous viruses" that would crash my computer shortly if not addressed.
After fixing my machine, they charged me $99.99. I paid it and then thought this is a scam. The next day, I called their 1-877 number and asked to speak to a supervisor. He said (through a thick foreign accent) that Plaza XXX is not Microsoft. When I questioned him, he said that they are technicians repairing Microsoft computers. I would like to confirm that this is a scam and receive my money back.
Microsoft should investigate to save their reputation. These overseas scammers are making a fortune using the name of Microsoft.

Yes, they're scammers. They have a legitimate-looking website. They have a 1-877 toll-free number (which undoubtedly rings overseas). They're registered as Microsoft Partners (a process that takes five minutes). And they're very, very good at making cold call cons.

How can they do it? Think of it this way. If you dialed ten random phone numbers in any large U.S. city, and said you had heard that the person answering the phone had a Windows problem, what are the chances you'd get a bite? Three out of ten? Fifty-fifty?

What can you do about it? After you've paid, your only reasonable recourse is to reverse the charges on your credit card. If you can. You can try to launch a publicity campaign, disparaging the name of the company that bilked you, but they're smart and fast enough to change their company name in a day. Microsoft won't go after them. How could they? There are tens — probably hundreds — of thousands of scam companies overseas.

The overwhelming con give-away — the big red flag — in all of this: Microsoft doesn't work that way. Microsoft isn't going to call you to solve your problems, unless you've received a very specific commitment from a very specific individual in the organization — a commitment that invariably only comes after repeated phone calls on your part, generally accompanied by elevation to lofty levels of the support organization on multiple continents, frequently in conjunction with high-decibel histrionics. Microsoft doesn't respond to random online requests for help by calling a customer. Doesn't happen.

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