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Microsoft warns about prevalence of tech support scams

Microsoft has produced some alarming figures when it comes to the number of tech support scams doing the rounds.

You may well be familiar with these sort of calls where a con artist rings up claiming that you've got a problem with your PC, usually informing you that your machine is infected by a virus – and of course they have a solution on hand, for a small fee, or indeed a large one (a ‘service’ which probably installs malware itself, as well as ripping you off).

Anyhow, Microsoft has announced that since May of last year, it has been sent over 175,000 customer complaints about fraudulent tech support stings.

The company reckons that over the course of 2015, around 3.3 million Americans will be conned out of over $1.5 billion (£990 million) by the malicious perpetrators of these scams.

And following the revelation of those figures, Microsoft held a conference for 300 members of the AARP on its Redmond campus, for a major discussion of exactly how these con artists operate, and how best to stop them.

In a blog post (opens in new tab) (spotted by the BBC), Microsoft noted that it never makes cold calls to users charging for software fixes or similar, in case you weren’t aware.

Redmond also advises that if you get a call claiming to be from Microsoft tech support, you should never purchase any services offered, or give control of your computer to said third party, or provide any financial details such as your credit card.

You should also take down the caller’s information and report the incident to your local authorities.

Our own personal solution? Whenever we get a call telling us there is a problem with our Windows computer, we simply put on a confused voice and tell the caller we’ve got an Apple Mac. There’s inevitably a click on the other end of the line…

Darren Allan
Darren Allan

Darran has over 25 years of experience in digital and magazine publishing as a writer and editor. He's also an author, having co-written a novel published by Little, Brown (Hachette UK). He currently writes news, features and buying guides for TechRadar, and occasionally other Future websites such as T3 or Creative Bloq and he's a copy editor for TechRadar Pro. Darrran has written for a large number of tech and gaming websites/magazines in the past, including Web User and ComputerActive. He has also worked at IDG Media, having been the Editor of PC Games Solutions and the Deputy Editor of PC Home.