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A letter from me to our local paper following a rash of rattled residents handing over credit card details to mellifluous malfeasants:

Residents report rorting by rascals ringing randomly.

Rancid rogues wrongly represent themselves as reps of reliable retailers.

These reprehensible rapscallions rip off retirees with relish.

Refuse rotten requests to ransack your RAM.

Ring off rapidly!

Kosher companies do not cold call clients for computer consultations.

Compliance with callous con-men may lead to credit card cancellation.

Help from hackers may lead to hijacked hardware.

Cut off cold calling quacks quickly!

In other words:

Neither Microsoft nor any other reputable computer security company cold calls users about virus infections on their computers, problems with their operating system, or anything else.

If someone calls you claiming to be from Microsoft Security, Global Internet Security, or any other tech supplier or tech support company, the caller is trying to scam you.

He may get you bring up the event log as proof of problems which urgently need to be fixed. The computer I am typing on lists 208 ‘problems’ for the last week. It is working perfectly. Problems listed in the event log are not a problem unless your computer is not doing what it should, when the event log may be a useful diagnostic tool for a technician.

Getting people to look at the event log is a good way of scaring old ladies, however.

Once you have checked the event log and are sufficiently alarmed, the scammer will either try to get you give him your credit card details to pay a fee for fixing these imaginary problems, or will give ask you to follow instructions which will give him control over your computer. This will allow him to plant malicious software which may track your key entries, giving him your ID and any passwords you use, or may pop up fake virus or system warnings later in order to get you to pay more money to deal with these further fake problems.

If you get a scam computer tech support call like this, just hang up.

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