Update, received yet another call today, Tuesday October 25!
The call starts something like this:
Hello. We are <insert some phony name here> Windows Support and are calling you to let you know we have detected your computer sending viruses over the internet. We will fix this problem for you.
The caller uses words that implies they are Microsoft, the developers of Windows, or are calling on behalf of them. Perhaps you may detect that the caller is from India simply from the accent of the person on the phone; the caller ID on your telephone will show some nonsense number as these are easily spoofed.
Don't talk to this person. Accent or not, the person on the other end of the line is a criminal bent on defrauding you. Hang up and feel good about it.
How can we be so sure? It's simple. Microsoft never calls users. If you want support from Microsoft, you have to call them.
Earlier this year Microsoft issued a press release that warned computer users world wide about this scam:
Microsoft Corp. today released findings of a survey* into an emerging form of Internet scam that targets English-language markets and costs victims on average US$875.
The scam works by criminals posing as computer security engineers and calling people at home to tell them they are at risk of a computer security threat. The scammers tell their victims they are providing free security checks and add authenticity by claiming to represent legitimate companies and using telephone directories to refer to their victims by name.
Once they have tricked their victims into believing they have a problem and that the caller can help, the scammers are believed to run through a range of deception techniques designed to steal money.
Please read Microsoft's press release in full as the details provide a sobering warning you won't soon forget.
If our own experience here at Chez Watkins is a guide, the scammers seem to be escalating their activities in Canada, one of the world's most internet-connected countries. We received the first such call about six months ago. I'm a computer professional with thirty years of experience so I recognized the scam instantly and kept them on the phone for an hour to learn more about their deception. We received a second such call at 2:00am (!) about three months ago. This past week alone we received three more of these ominous calls, and twice they asked for me by name. While criminals can read phone books, apparently they don't keep track of who they've called.
Don't be fooled. Hang up on these criminals. Don't give them any opportunity to try to convince you of anything.
Please be proactive and warn your family and friends of this scam, taking special care to alert those you know who aren't especially comfortable with their computers or those who might be more likely to respond to an ominous phone call from a criminal posing as someone who is there to help.