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Watch Out for the Windows Telephone Scam

I used to be excited when I came home to six messages on my answering machine. But that was before a fake Windows telephone scam started calling five times a day, trying to convince me to give them my money.

The caller will claim to be either a member of the “Windows Technical Care Department”, “Windows Service Department” or a “Windows-certified support agent”. It changes every time, but the word “Windows” will almost certainly be in there.

The thick-accented man will then explain that your version of Windows is sending them error reports, and they are phoning to help fix it.

Photograph: Corbis

Photograph: Corbis

For anyone who isn’t already suspicious: Microsoft has never had a policy of phoning customers because their computers are reporting errors. In fact, Windows (as yet) has no facility for reporting non-anonymous computer errors to Microsoft without your explicit say so.

If you continue with the call, the scammer will talk your through various Windows-based commands which are supposed to highlight security errors in your system. In actual fact, these are normal Windows information boxes, and have nothing to do with any security breech. Every Windows system has them, the caller is just pretending they’re malicious errors, trying to destroy your PC.

Finally, the scammer will ask you to install LogMeIn – a software that lets the caller access your computer – or go to their website and buy a fake virus scanner. Doing either of those things is a bad idea.

Of course, LogMeIn isn’t a virus in itself – it’s actually a useful business tool – but allowing these guys access to your computer with it would be silly.

The scam itself has been widely reported to both the police and scam-watchers, but if you fancy some vigilante justice, there is one thing you can do: waste the callers time. The more time you spend on the call, the less time they can go around scamming less technically-savvy users.

In fact, it’s becoming a bit of a hobby for some people, many of whom have submitted recorded versions of their phone calls to this website: The record appears to be 1 hour and 20 minutes – but be warned, some of the employees of Windows Technical Care have not have adequate customer-relations training and swear. A lot.


57 Responses to Watch Out for the Windows Telephone Scam

  1. Caroline E says:

    This is scary information with all of these scams. I try to carefully watch out not to fall for them but sometimes you never know. If it seems suspicious – it probably is.
    Thank you for the information!

  2. Stung says:

    I believe this just happened to me on the weekend – I have been having major internet and computer issues so actually believed it was real – although suspcious it was sounding legit. What do I do now?

    I allowed them access to remote in but when they talked about being out of warranty I knew we were heading to wanting my credit card details and then I shortly ended the call. When I disconnected my broadband are they now out of my computer? Can they get in again?

    What should I do? I have been worried all weekend.

    Were they only after my credit card details or is this scam involved in identity fraud, email account hacking etc?

    • bahram says:

      As long as you have disconnected your broadband, there is nothing to worry about. Your computer has to be connected to the internet for them to be able to do anything with your computer.

      In regards to how you stop them from connecting to your computer when you re-connect your broadband, you can simply uninstall the “LogMeIn” application from your computer. It should be very simple.

  3. Colin says:

    Have a computer from a slightly silly friend of mine who fell for this and gave card details. They seem to have actually fixed some issues on her computer using CCleaner and updating her windows XP to SP3. I have got her to cancel her credit card and ask for a new one and I will remove LogMeIn from her computer – is there anything else I need to do?

  4. bahram says:

    These scammers need to have “LogMeIn” installed and running on your computer to be able to connect to it. It is difficult to say that every such case will be exactly the same, but they will most likely all include installing some application that allows remote connections. By simply removing the “LogMeIn” application you will sever their possibility of connecting to your computer.

    You also have to remember that simply having the application “LogMeIn” installed on your computer does not give anyone access to your computer, because your will have to provide anyone wanting to connect to your computer with either a unique username/passord or specific ID.

    Regardless, the best course of action when faced with this type of scenario is to uninstall the remote connection application and then run a scan of your computer. If you have Norman Security Suite/Norman Endpoint Protection installed, you can simply start a scan of your entire computer by right clicking on the Norman-icon and then selecting “Scan Computer”. This will scan your entire computer and report any malicious files found. (Note: A scan of your entire computer might take some time.)

  5. dave says:

    They’re still at it. Got the call last night and the caller said he was from ‘Windows Operating System’. After toying with him for a few minutes I told him Microsoft has no such department and he hung up.

  6. Patricia says:

    I received a call today with caller ID of “private.” He said he was from Windows. I asked him why he would think that I would take a call from a stranger and allow access to my computer. He told me that my computer was in danger from a virus distroying it. I asked him how he got my number and the response was that “when you register your computer you give your name, address, etc and that’s how he got the information.” When asked how much it was going to cost he replied, “nothing.” I mentioned Microsoft and he said, “no maam, I’m from Windows, not Microsoft.” That threw me because I thought windows was Microsoft! After much irritation I passed him on to my husband who promptly ended the call.

  7. Sarah says:

    Just got off of the phone to these guys. Told me they were calling from London. There was a fair delay for him to hunt down the correct answer!
    Managed to keep him talking for so long going around in circles until he got so frustrated with me he hung up!! They are clever that’s for sure they took time to get to the point. No direct answers to any of my questions either. Frustrating!!

  8. Jen Williams says:

    Same thing last night. I finally said I had to go and I would call him back. He gave me his number 347 587 8710 and said he’d be there 6 more hours. He said he would call back later. He called back about two hours later and I kept saying I can’t hear you and finally I hung up.
    He sounded very convincing. Glad I thought twice before i did anything. There was a lot of noise in the back ground of callers – sounded like India to me but the number was a Brooklyn, NY land line. Ug

    • john says:

      Its generally a recorded tape, or a cd player of noise..i know i had it happen to me too, I called him a paki and hung up after wasting his time.

  9. Peterem says:

    I’ve had five of these calls today and one call asking for my debit card details – it was scary how much he knew about me. I kept one hanging on a while, then hung up. He rang back and cursed and swore at me. I told another that I knew it was a scam, he cursed and swore at me.
    Anyone got any idea how to get rid of these foul-mouthed pests?

    • Aman says:

      If they are calling from the same number then just block that number and next time if they calls you , tell those morons “I am the son/daughter/wife/husband of an interpol officer” , so call me again and you are going to be traced back even if you are in hell.

  10. Madelene says:

    I had a call this morning from someone claiming to be From Windows Technical Service Department, sam old story, trying to convince me the errors shown in my eventviewer log was a hacker trying to get into my computer. Eventually he tried to get me to log into a website, he even gave me my computers IP address. I told him that I did not believe him thet he was from Windows, he then hang up.

  11. Brent Clanton says:

    They’re working the Houston area today (11/9/12). Just got a call from a guy with a thick accent from “Vindows” in Brooklyn, N.Y., Suspicious, I asked for a call back number, to which he replied he was not allowed to give it. I said, “then, we’ve got nothing to talk about,” and the slimeball smarted off, “then why don’t you hang up the phone?”
    I did.

  12. sophia says:

    just got a call from that number regarding this type of scam.

  13. Daniel says:

    These same slimeballs called me today on TG, no less. When I informed slimer that it was TG, he acknowldged knowing this and kept on with the BS–I then suggested that it would be a miracle if he got anyone to talk to him today–tried to avoid using expletives, which was a challenge. Heard that they were calling around the northern Silicon Valley recently, so I was prepared. Next time I will use expletives.

  14. Chris says:

    My mother fell to this scam today and paid via credit card for there service. Can any one please advise what should be done I already changed her banking account passwords from a different computer. I need to know what I should do with her computer. I don’t know what kind of software they installed. She is calling her credit card company to inform them. But I need to know what else I can do to make sure they don’t drain her financially.

    • john says:

      ugh…why can’t older people smarten up and realize its a scam..they are the ones that fall victim to this crime, i think if your not cyber smart you should not be on a computer and if your under 13.

  15. woodgreen27 says:

    I had a call today claiming that the government have to return the money I was scammed in June this year. It starts by giving their name (Denial Smith and Felix De Crews both with a Pakistan accent) and that they are based in Melbourn Australia. It then goes on to fill in a form for Weston Union to transfer the money back into my account. This form asks for your card details, at this point I refused to give any information and that if it was legitimate they could send me a bank draft or a cheque. That set them off on a load of demands that they could only give me the money in this fashion. The phone call sounded like it was from a shipping container and there where at least 3 or 4 people in the back ground, I stretched the call out as long as I could after all its their call and they are paying.

  16. bill says:

    (416) 628 7192 …E. Indian (?) accent,very bad connection,posing as gov’t techie (U.K.)wanting my wife to go online and fix “computer error” message. He dodged her first few questions but hung up when asked for name/number.Hopefully, less 6-7AM INTRUSIVE wake-ups. -Playing dumb is brilliant!

    • Jeff says:

      Received a call from the same guy with the Indian accent this evening. Same number 416-628-7192, he pretended to be calling from Microsoft, Quebec, Montreal. My computer was suppose to have error regarding my windows License ID or something like that. I searched for the his phone number on the internet and found this blog. Good idea to share this kind of information on the net!

      I asked him to talk with someone who speak french, but he said to me that they were all gone… :) I tell him to call me back tomorrow. I hope I’ll have a little fun with him :)

  17. Patricia says:

    Got me up at8.London. quite convincing.shame I am on a blackberry.

  18. woodgreen27 says:

    They called again and insisted they are from windows. I disagreed with that and they asked me to call windows support on 01905570558.
    This I did and got to a woman that said she was for windows and what did I wont, well it was still a Pakistani accent so suspicious, I said that it was a scam and they put the phone down.
    Ten minuets later the first called again I said it was a scam and he complained that I had wasted his time and put the phone down. Good another long distance call waisted. I’m enjoying this.

  19. Palle Wante says:

    Keep the line open even if they hang up! Hopefully this will cost the scammers some much money for their international calls.

  20. cat says:

    Just got the call! How annoying, trying to work from home and got this call, very insistent person with a very, very strong accent. I asked him to authenticate that he’s from windows and gave me a number to call from my cell phone in Toronto, and to ask for James Watson. I asked why isn’t the 1-800 number working and he said it’s jammed given all the calls. I googled microsoft scam while i was on the call and saw this information, then hung up on him. What a waste!!! Hopefully they don’t make it through to vulnerable individuals.

  21. Kelly says:

    I just got a call tonight… couldn’t believe it when he said to me “if you don’t take this call you may as well throw your computer out”… Wow – yeah you are definitely from Windows! Especially when anyone who actually worked for Windows would say they are from Microsoft. Frustrating phone call.

  22. Barbara says:

    I am in the Pittsburgh region. This scam is still alive. I received the same call described above, same story.

  23. Ashley says:

    They are still at it I’m in Cornwall and these jerks have been calling me for 2 months now I tell them to f off and they still call , this time there was an actual local number showing up

  24. Nancy says:

    Ok, they are still calling. I talked them while I was checking the internet to validate if they are a scam. Once I found this site, I ended the call. they have tried to call me back several times. they sure don’t give up easy. I guess when they call back again I will call them out. thank you for posting. I am one of those older persons, but I do have savy and knew enough to check them out. Why would Windows care if my computer is working? thanks again.

  25. Peter Hill says:

    Still going in UK.
    0800456324 from “windows”

  26. Peter Hill says:

    Still going on in UK

  27. Lydia says:

    Yep I just got that call a few minutes ago. Glad I looked it up and found this, I was pretty positive it was a scam

  28. Des Gargan says:

    Just had the infamous phone call. August, 5th, 2013, Republic of Ireland.

  29. Melissa says:

    Scam still alive. Been calling me all day. I live in the metro DC area but have a CT area code. I keep messing with them – then they get angry and hang up!

  30. one morning the “technical department of windows care” (stupid name) called on our home phone and I answered. (they had previously called my mother.) The second I heard the name I hung up.

  31. John Williams says:

    Just had two phone calls in as many minutes from them. I asked what company he was phoning from and that surely I would have to be hooked up to a mainframe for it to be traced. The caller started stuttering then I hung up.
    They also tried it at work a few months ago saying they had traced error reports to the line they were phoning. They again had no response then hung up when I explained they had phoned a payphone with no internet connection…

  32. John Williams says:

    My brother later found this…

  33. Rich says:

    So i just had one of these calls.

    It came from the number 567-8

    They claimed my computer was sending error messages to their database and that they were contact me about them.

    I hadn’t quite clicked what was happening or i would have had them call back on a recorded line and waste their time.

    As it stands what i said was “I built this pc myself and configured it not to send error reports to any company. So I am curious to know how you are receiving them… ” *Click*

  34. Sue says:

    Just got one of these phone calls last night…same story as above. Thick accent…could hardly understand what he was saying and when I told him I couldn’t understand him,he started yelling at me! Said he was from Windows…I didn’t think Windows was a company,that it was a product of Microsoft, so then I was totally suspicious but thought maybe it was legit because my son’s laptop was having some issues…but he is going to school in Minneapolis and I’m in Milwaukee. I told him I had a Mac and didn’t run Windows and then he hung up. I totally plan on messing with them if they call back!

  35. W Bishop says:

    Got a phone call today. I got a callback number and it is 347-332-1135. This is out of the Bronx, NY. Otherwise pretty much what has happened above. Thanks for the heads up and comments. We are alerted they may call back.

  36. Blacketer says:

    I have gotten this call twice in the last 2 weeks. They make up a line when I tell them I don’t have a computer

  37. ryan says:

    i got this today. tracked the call and told them i knew where they were and they freaked out. started offering my money and shit. I laughed so hard and just said. “have a nice day sir” and hung up to the guy begging me to wait. they called again 3 more times. i loled

  38. Skeptic says:

    Received a call from an alleged computer technician saying they were seeing some bad error message from my computer. They (Windowscare) have access to Microsoft Windows error messages as a contracted technical provider to Microsoft. In a long pitch, they offered to monitor my computer on a monthly basis and to install some software that would keep my computer free from any hacking activities. They would also install a program so they could have control of my computer to do their services. They wanted $99, $156, or $249 or one-year, 3-years, or lifetime. Beware: the pitch is a scam.

  39. Lorraine says:

    Just got this call, 1/27/14…really they can’t come up with anything new. I hope he/they call back! Gonna throw some Elf quotes at them! Don’t tell him what you want, he’s a liar.

    You disgust me! How can you live with yourself?

    You sit on a throne of lies.

    You’re a fake.

    You stink.

    You smell like beef and cheese, you don’t smell like Santa.

  40. Bud S says:

    I got a call from 881-654-6055 saying that they were from windows error reports. they stated my system was sending out errors and I needed to go to my machine and they would help me clean my system. she said they had my IP address. MMM this was fishy so I ask her which system she was talking about because I have several and that also I was behind a firewall so I needed a Mac address. She hung up.

  41. Pepe says:

    Glad I found this page, I’ve had a dozen of these calls in the last few of days, always a different Indian accent. I’ll be ready if they call again.

    My phone registers a caller ID of only 019.

  42. Janet says:

    I just received two of these calls within 15 minutes from two different telephone numbers. I knew right away it was a scam but tried to play along just a little bit for fun. I then told the guy I do not believe anything you are saying and hung up on him. I feel sorry for the naive who do not know any better.

  43. Mary says:

    I have just been scammed as they were so convincing and I nearly lost £70, I got onto my bank right away and hopefully this hasn’t gone through but they have been on my computer and I now don’t know what to do.

  44. Rae says:

    They are at it in New Zealand. Got the call tonight I kept him talking for ages as I have two computers ,sounded like a very foreign voice hard to understand I might be old but I am not stupid .

  45. Debbie says:

    Yep — they are nasty when you push their buttons… LOL They cursed at me repeatedly. I challenged them to give me information about my computer — told them I had several computers and needed them to tell me which one it was. Of course, they could not. I asked for a supervisor – got a man who was very rude (and might have been the same guy LOL). I told them out right that they were a scam and the cursing got WORSE. I hung up on them and they tried calling back immediately – I hung up on them. I have told them repeatedly NOT to call me again… but this is the 4th time they have called. Need to spread the word to everyone you know — don’t let your friends and family fall for this.

  46. Rick says:

    Microsoft doesn’t proactively call people out of the blue and the first tipoff should be the fact that the ‘technician’ is Indian and can’t speak proper English.

  47. John says:

    They’re still at it. Best thing to do is Say “This is a Scam”
    The guy on the line will start to stutter:
    “Wh-what makes you think this is a sscam?”

    He called from a private number.
    I haven’t given Microsoft any information access.
    Microsoft wouldn’t call by phone. They would email.
    He kept wanting me to look at my computer. I was on it and it was and has been working fine for as long as we have had it.
    They are now specifying which computer as the “Main Home Computer.” All computers we have are Vista or later and Microsoft would know what Name we set the computers up with.

    All in all they are getting better at figuring things out. But still, shotty work.

  48. Cmarie says:

    Just got a call from these people tonight as I was struggling with my computer….I was suspicious right off the batt and handed the phone to my husband who is a phone tech and very familiar with computers. While he was talking to them, I looked this up in my iPad., showed it to him and then the fun began! I was rolling!!!! He told her he didn’t see windows on the computer, she asked if it was a Mac, he said “no, it’s black; maybe it didn’t come with windows, I got it at the Salvation Army!” After he told her he had a qwerty keyboard, I think they caught on…. It was fun while it lasted!

  49. John says:

    I had the same phone call but with a twist. They downloaded something, I do not know what, and it locked me out of my own computer. I immediately shut down the computer and disconnected the internet. When I restarted the computer I was still locked out. An hour or so later I got a demand for $150 and then they would unlock my computer once the money was received. I hung up. Fortunately I know someone with a computer business and he helped me solve the problem.

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