The 'Microsoft' Scam

It's not just our bank accounts that are at risk of being scammed - fraudsters are now posing as IT security experts to hack into our computers to access personal information. Moneywise scambuster Donal MacIntyre shows you how to avoid being a victim.

Your Comments

I am extremely worried about these scams.

I recently had a problem with the internet and I had to telephone Dell to sort the problem. I ended up talking with an IT software consultant in India. He gave me instructions to carry out certain tasks and then he "took over" my computer. He then carried out certain operations to sort the problem which was done successfully.

I presume that when he "took over" my computer, he could access all my files and copy them. I have all my bank accounts on the internet and the worry is whether this consultant in India is able to commit a fraud based on the assumption that he was able to copy all my files.

I would appreciate if you could inform me whether such a fraud is possible and what action one should take if such a problem occurs in the future.

Many thanks

With so many apps on parade it worries me in case these are scams in themselves. That is pro-porting to be something you may want only for it to be a scam. Does this happen? If it does what can I and others do to protect ourselves.

obvious and patronising

I've had 3 phone calls about 2 months ago (2 male, 1 female) both sounding Indian, stating that they were from Microsoft and had reports that my computer was running slow and had problems with my download speeds.
I just hung up.

If you did not ask anyone to help sort out your problems, then just hang up and change your password etc.
I cannot think of anything else to do, what do the experts suggest?

Fraud is ALWAYS POSSIBLE with a computer and all users should take maximum precautions:

1 Never keep passwords in a computer file. It's tempting when you are offered the 'service' of automatically signing you into web sites, but you should enter passwords only where and when they are required.

2. Make sure you run up to date Anti Virus and Malware software.

3. Ensure any procedure where you invite somebody onto your computer to help allows you to see exactly what ithey are doing - you'll want to know that any sensitive files and not accessed.

Anyway, I suspect that the IT consultant probably employed a process which ensured you always kept control of the process. i.e:
1 You requested that the consultant's computer 'talked' to yours.
2. You gave permission for the helper to "take over" control of your system.
3. You got to see everything the consultant did and if you didn't like what they were doing, you always had the option of stopping them (usually by pressing the ESC key)

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Donal MacIntyre's clip was patronising and very little help in dealing with these "Microsoft" scams. They key with all these is to ask yourself the question, "How would anyone know details of how my computer is working", or even if I have a computer. Don't believe them unless they are from a company that you know you have dealt with directly, and can give you an account number, a phone number and an address that can be verified. But even then beware; sometimes they will give you the name of a bona fide company. If you let them take you further, they will show you all sorts of error messages on your computer, which are normal, but by then they'll be reeling you in.

I had two similar calls the other day about my Sky box, which I do not have, but they knew all about it and how it wasn't working properly!

The Microsoft Security Development Lifecycle is a software development process used and proposed by Microsoft to reduce software maintenance costs and increase reliability of software concerning software security related bugs. It is based on the classical spiral model.