Warning: Avon May Call You, But Microsoft Won’t
Debra L. Bruce, JD, PCC.
The internet crawls with scam artists circulating myths, bogus horror stories, urban legends and snake oil sales pitches. I often use the Snopes website to verify or debunk any weird or cautionary emails I receive. According to a New York Times article about the Snopes founders, their fact-checking website gets around 8 million unique visitors per month. This time I didn’t need Snopes to verify the warning I received in a recent email. It came from our trustworthy IT consultant, Lee McAdory. Here’s what Lee wrote:
“One of my clients was recently contacted over the phone by someone presenting themselves to be a Microsoft Support Technician. They claimed that my client’s Microsoft software was out of warranty and generating errors. To ‘prove’ this, they had my client open the event viewer and look at the many warnings and errors. This is a scam! Another scam performed by the same people is to state that your machine is performing slowly and that they were contacted by your ISP or Microsoft to help you speed up your machine. Again, this is a scam!
Microsoft does not, will not, and does not contract out other companies to, cold call individuals for support or warranty issues. Please be aware of this scam and make sure that you don’t fall victim to it; the consequences could hurt more than your pocket book (including data loss and identity theft)! These scams are occurring globally, so please feel free to pass this on your friends and family.”
Well, I did pass Lee’s warning on to family members, and a mere two days later I got this email from my sister:
“Tell your computer person thank you for passing on about the scam and ‘Thank You,’ to you as well because I just received a phone call from an Unknown ID on my landline and the man said that this was a service call about my computer. I told him ain’t so and hung up.”
Lawyers are popular targets for scams these days. I judge the popularity by my own email inbox. I don’t even practice law anymore, yet I receive an average of 5 scam emails per week purporting to seek my services for the collection of a debt, the distribution of an inheritance or the enforcement of a divorce decree “in my jurisdiction.” My 18-year law career focused on corporate and securities work and mergers and acquisitions, by the way. So, be sure to employ your well-honed legal skill as a skeptic if you get an unsolicited call from Microsoft or any other computer or software tech support person.