New Phone Scam Targets Computer Users

Brad Chacos

Are we the only ones who ignore telemarketers? Between caller ID, voicemail, and the oh-so-awesome Do Not Call list, it's easier than ever to avoid being hassled about aluminum siding while you're trying to eat your dinner. Apparently, not everybody's gotten the message: Microsoft's reporting that there's a new computer scam making the rounds, only this time you're swindled over the phone rather than via email. Your wallet still gets hit just as hard.

The scammers call computer users out of the blue and claim to be representatives from a major security company, like Microsoft tech support. Rather than screaming "SCAMMER! DO NOT WANT!" into the phone and hanging up, the victims of the scheme then proceed to give the criminals access to their financial information, either by granting the caller remote access, downloading malware programs or flat-out giving the scammers credit card information.

Microsoft contacted 7,000 computer users in several different countries – by phone, ironically enough – and 15 percent claimed to have been targeted by the phone scam in the past. Twenty-two percent of all people who received a call fell for the scam, often to catastrophic financial results: the average victim lost $875. Canadians fared the worst, losing $1,560 on average.

"The average cost of repairing damage caused to computers by the scammers was $1,730 — rising to $4,800 in the U.S," Microsoft's press release reports. $4,800 on average? That seems like a stretch. We'd doubt most people own hardware that they'd be willing to drop $4,800 worth of repairs on.

Remember folks: don't give out bank account info or computer access to a random person who calls you out of the blue. *Cough* Duh *cough* Oh yeah, one more thing: There's no such thing as the Microsoft lottery . The sooner you remember those two things, the sooner you'll stop being swindled.

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