Aggressive, persistent Windows tech support scammers continue to stalk consumers

Gregg Keizer

Others also smelled the rat, but were unsure about what to do.

"I received a call yesterday from ... a person claiming to be from Windows technical support," wrote Gwen C. in April. "I would not allow them to go into my computer and told them not to call back. I felt the need to tell someone, perhaps they can be traced. To whom should I report this incident?"

The FTC does offer a way to report telephone-based scams, including computer support fraud, on its website. While the FTC does not pursue individual cases, it said it uses these reports to "help us and our law enforcement partners detect patterns of fraud and abuse."

Some readers related their brushes with scammers even as they wondered whether the call had been on the level.

"He said that I had serious malware and viruses on my PC," wrote Barbara-Anne P. in an email today. "And that I needed to log in while we were talking and he would fix it for me. The call was marked 'unknown caller' [so] I asked him for the number and called back. When I did, someone picked up and mumbled a company name, but it didn't seem convincing. Could you tell me if this is a scam or is it legitimate?"

In her blog post, Microsoft's Kliphouse linked to a page on the company's website that described some of the characteristics of tech support scams, and more importantly, offered up excellent advice, including the catch-all "hang up."

But according to some readers, scammers have become so persistent that even that recommendation isn't fool-proof.

"We have received at least three calls a day for the last few months from phone numbers that appear as 'anonymous' on our caller ID," related Jodi E. last Friday. "I can't believe the level of harassment and the belligerence of these individuals. Knowing it was a bunch of crap, we question them and try to gain more information, asked to be removed from call lists, even went so far to tell them we don't own Windows computers!"

The FTC did not respond to a request for comment on the continued problem of technical support scams.

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