CPA warns of fake Microsoft service scams

Posted at 5:37 PM, May 31, 2012

SALT LAKE CITY -- The Consumer Protection Agency warns there is a scam coming from callers who claim to be from Microsoft.

The agency says the fraudster will call over the phone telling the person that they are from Microsoft and that they were alerted to errors coming from their computer. They typically ask the victim to turn on their computer for an urgent fix and instructs them to download something that will protect their machine from viruses. However the bogus program typically turns out to be a virus or a means of stealing the victim's identity.

Traci Gundersen with the Utah’s Consumer Protection Agency says she has received many calls from people who have either been exposed to or fallen victim to this scam. She offered a few precautionary points of advice.

“Well, for one thing, the first red flag should be ‘why is Microsoft calling me?’ That's not Microsoft's standard practice, they're not going to be doing these unsolicited telephone calls," said Gundersen. 

Gundersen says the consumer would be calling in for Microsoft support, not the other way around.

Gundersen says these kinds of scammers have the most success with the elderly.

“They go through this process of making you scared and then getting you to giving up your information,” Gundersen says. “You know, you're downloading this software program, you're potentially getting viruses, they're getting your credit card information. They may be leaving something on there on there where they can track your keystrokes.”

But tracking them down to prosecute is nearly impossible. Gunderson said that when they track the fraud suspect's online address, they are often traced to regions in the Caribbean or Russia.

This is just one of many scams out there that the state is handling. So their experts say the best rule of thumb is if anyone is asking for money, then it is most likely a scam.