Consumer Alert

Virus protection for your computer is important, but don't buy it in response to a phone call

The Consumer Protection Unit of the Attorney General’s Office has noted an increase in complaints from consumers who received phone calls from people identifying themselves as being affiliated with Microsoft (using terms like “Windows Support” or “Microcom”), calling to “warn” consumers that their computers had acquired a virus, were in imminent danger of crashing, and needed immediate steps to avoid this.

The caller then instructs the consumers to log on and leads them to a particular website. Some consumers report that the caller is then able to control the computer remotely. Consumers are asked to enter credit card information to purchase up to ten years’ worth of virus protection, and are instructed to leave their computers on and connected for an extended period after the phone call so the work can be completed.

The use of like-sounding terms to imply a connection with Microsoft; the marketing by telephone; the dire warnings of imminent crashing from a virus; the high-pressure to take immediate steps; the credit card information; the instruction to leave the computer on and vulnerable to potential hacking these are all indications of a scam.

Bear in mind the following:

  • Microsoft and other legitimate companies do not do business this way.
  • You should purchase your anti-virus and other protection software from sources you know and trust.
  • Never give credit card information in response to an unsolicited call.

If you find yourself receiving a call like this, terminate the call and report it to the Attorney General’s Office Consumer Protection Unit or to the Internet Crime Complaint Center.

Consumer Protection Unit
October 2011