Free Windows 10 upgrade e-mail is a scam

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A new bout of ransomware is rolling out just in time to trick people surrounding the Microsoft rollout of Windows 10, according to Cisco. But if you fall for this scam, your computer will be held hostage until you pay money!

Read more: Easy way to know if your account has been compromised

Beware of this scam e-mail

Here’s what you need to know: Microsoft is not sending Windows 10 upgrades by e-mail, like this one shown above. The company is only upgrading Windows 7 and 8 customers via notifications sent directly to those user’s desktops.

So if you see an e-mail like this, know that it is a fake. You know the usual routine: Don’t click on attachments, don’t watch unsolicited videos, keep your anti-virus up to date, etc.

And if someone is holding your computer hostage for money, never pay the ransom. There’s no way to tell the scammers will release it and not load additional viruses on your computer. Second, you’re rewarding bad behavior if you pay them.

Read more: Are password clearinghouse websites safe?

Normally I talk about using free anti-virus software to prevent something like this. But now the warning is that won’t get it done. The recommendation I have is to contact a professional to clean your computer. Even if you’re able to unfreeze your computer yourself, elements of the virus could remain behind.

Here’s how to protect yourself going forward:

  • For basic protection, use anti-virus and anti-malware software and keep it up to date. See my Virus, Spyware and Malware Protection Guide for links to free options. 
  • Keep your browsers, applications and plug-ins up-to-date with the latest security patches and updates. Be sure to do this at home on your own secure connection.
  • When using Wi-Fi at a hotel or other public hotspot, make sure you are using the real Wi-Fi connection.  Some scammers try to lure people to a fake Wi-Fi connection that can steal your info.
  • When using public Wi-Fi of any kind, don’t access your financial institutions or do any kind of bank transaction–do that at home only!
  • Finally, back up everything you have so you can abandon a computer if it’s infected. There are two ways you can do this. Either use a freemium back-up cloud service for data or use a back-up external drive. The latter is really cheap starting around $30.


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