Beware of cold calls from fake computer security experts

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RIP-OFF ALERT: Microsoft has put out a special consumer alert to warn about bogus computer security engineers making cold calls to convince people their computers are at risk for a security threat.

The phonies offer a free security check over the phone in an effort to get you to give them remote access to your computer for a supposed diagnosis and fix. Once they have remote access, they will download software to your computer that basically allows them to steal money from your accounts.

A Microsoft survey conducted in the English-speaking world (this is not just limited to the United States) found that 15% of people have gotten a call from these scammers at one time or another.

Eight in 10 of those who allowed remote access of their computers had money stolen. One in five became identity theft victims. Finally, more than half of all people who allowed remote access got hit with viruses that fouled up their computers. Very often, the cost of repair was greater than the money stolen.

Microsoft offers a few recommendations to stay out of harm’s way:

  • Be suspicious of unsolicited calls from supposed computer security experts.
  • Don’t visit any sites or install software recommended by unsolicited callers.
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