Beware the Microsoft scam!

Beware scammers trying to convince people they’re calling from Microsoft. Photo courtesy of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police

The Kelowna RCMP are cautioning people to be more vigilant after several reports of frauds in the Okanagan this week.

While that might make you think you’re safe in Revelstoke, scammers and other criminals rely on their victims’ ignorance of events outside their own communities. Being informed makes you less likely to succumb to a smooth-talking conman.

On November 7 Mounties received several reports of a common cold-call scam, otherwise known as the Microsoft Scam or the Virus Scam. Scammers call using well-known brands, such as Microsoft, to fool people into believing that something is wrong with their computers. This is how it usually goes:

A cold caller, claiming to be a representative of Microsoft, one of its brands or a third party contracted by Microsoft, tells the victim they are checking into a computer problem, infection or virus that has been detected by Microsoft.

They tell the victim they can help and direct them to a website that then allows the scammers to take remote control of the computer.

The cold caller will then spend some time on the computer trying to demonstrate where the ‘problems’ are and in the process convinces the victim to pay a fee for a service that will fix the computer.

While there is probably nothing wrong with their computer, the scammer has tricked the person into believing a problem exists. This leads to your credit card information being compromised as it is given to the scammer. In some cases, the ‘service’ they offer may even be the installation of malware or spyware, making your computer a fountain of information for them.

The scammers have been using phone spoofing, under the guise of Global PC Experts, but are believed to actually be calling from India. Phone spoofing occurs when the scammer has programmed a number to show up on your call display that is different than the originator’s. This means that you can’t call them back even though a number shows up on your call display.

If you’ve been a victim of this scam, cancel your credit card, turn off your computer and have a trusted service provider remove any malware or spyware that the scammer may have installed.

Think you’re being scammed? Ask yourself these questions:

S-Safe. If you give in to one of these facades, would you be worse off for having done it?

C-Credible. Does the person who is trying to convince you have any credibility that can be verified?

A-Aggressive. Is the scammer using an aggressive tactic, or language, that requires an immediate or imperative response?

M-Motive. Is their motive to deprive you of money or assets(banking information), with a promise of greater reward?

If the answer is Yes to any of the above questions, or if you have any doubt, then don’t fall for it. If it’s a phone call, hang up. If a letter, throw it away. If in person, kindly tell them you’re not interested.

Here’s something to remember if you think someone is trying to convince you they are from Microsoft or some associated firm: Microsoft never calls people to warn them about viruses, malware or spyware or computer problems. Nor does it ever send people e-mails warning them about anything.

For more information on frauds or to report, please go to