Beware the ‘Virus Fixer’ who calls you on the phone!


Scam copyThe phone scam, where someone who professes to be from a major tech company calls and tells you that you have a virus on your computer, is apparently making the rounds again (or still).

There are two flavors to this scam. The phone call seems to take the same form in each scam. Someone claiming to be from Microsoft, Norton , McAfee, or the like calls to tell you that you have a virus. What happens next differs sightly.

In the most common scenario, the nefarious person accesses the computer to ‘fix’ it. What they are really doing is planting malicious software that can do any of the following:
• Track your typing to log your credit card numbers, passwords or anything else that you type
• Monitor your online behavior, such as email, web browsing and online shopping
• Take control of your computer to use as a conduit to send out viruses to everyone on your contact list
• Access documents and any other files on your computer
• Lock you out of your own computer
• Delete any or all of its content

The objective of this type of scam is typically to gain information related to the first three items above.


The second scenario is that you are asked for credit card details in order to to pay for the service which will be provided to clean up your computer. The malicious software may or may not be placed on your computer. In the instances where this has happened locally, no malware was involved and the scam artist was only interested in the credit card information.

The lesson here is that no one will ever telephone you to tell you that you have a virus on your computer. How would they know? Hang up immediately and notify the police or state attorney general.

While this scam is not new, it seems to be making the rounds again. Please remind your friends and family of the logistics and dangers of this scam.

About the Author

Judy Novotny

Judy is a computer veteran with 30 years of experience. She has owned everything from a TRS-80, Apple IIe and various Windows-based PCs. She is currently living in her Apple ecosystem at home consisting of an iPhone, iPad, iMac, MacBook, Apple TV, iPod nano and two Time Capsules. She is a fan of all things mobile since she got her first Palm Pilot in 1999. Check out her iPad app, Number Wizard, in the App Store. Follow her on Twitter @junovotech or at Junovo.com.

4 Comments

  1. I’ve had two of these over the last year or two. The first one claimed that my Windows PC had a virus and I replied to him that this “could not be” because I “have no computer”. The most recent one I dealt with differently – I said that I was using BeOS for “my server farm” and I started to rave on to him that Microsoft was in league with the global bankers to overthrow etc…..
    These highly annoying petty criminals can be a source of enjoyment – turn the tables on them…..

  2. For me, it’s simple. When I hear any of those nauseating accents, I tell them to ‘get lost’ and hang up. Come to think of it, I wouldn’t respond favorably to a call like that anyway…accent or not…

  3. I am well versed into these calls coming out of India or some Asian country telling me I have a problem with my computer, I thought they had died a death until yet another call came in yesterday.
    Now considering I have had about 8 or 9 of these calls in the past, I am well and truly tuned in to the art of winding up these muppets who are stupid enough to think:
    a) I am going to give them remote access to my computer.
    b) I am going to give them my card details.
    c) that I don’t know what the Event Viewer is.

    Can you speak Swedish, I asked
    No, no we can talk English.
    But I don’t know how to speak English I said.
    Yes, yes you are doing good, I will tell you if I do not understand.

    So this rather urgent sounding Indian claiming to be from Windows Support stated that I have a problem with my vindows.
    Well, I said, I have had all the windows in my house changed just one year ago, what can possibly be wrong with them so soon? I mean they seem to work OK, they let light in through the glass and keep the rain out. Should they let light in during the night as well?

    No, no, I mean your vindows computer has a problem and it could break down at any moment.
    So, I replied, are you from Microsoft Support?
    No, We are Windows Support and you have a problem with your windows he urgently replied.

    Well, I said, I’ll go to the foot of our stairs.

    Yes yes it is serious, the ever so urgent sounding voice said.
    So I asked, which of my computers our you talking about? I have seven of them, I could hear the cash register ringing in the background and the instant sound of glee in his tone.
    We must check them all he said, Is your computer turned on?
    Which one? I asked
    Anyone of them he said.
    Yes my newest computer is turned on, could there be a problem with that one as well?
    Yes, yes we must check all of them, which version of V(W)indows have you got?
    Windows 2 I said.
    Do you mean XP or Vindows 7?
    I mean Windows 2.
    Is that like XP?
    Dunno, what is XP like?
    When did you get your Vindows sir?
    In 1987 I replied.
    No matter, he said, can you open Internet Explorer.

    Now for those who don’t know, I.E. didn’t come out until 1995 which was around the time the internet was coming into its own.

    What’s that? I asked
    Your browser he informed me.
    I don’t have a browser I said, Do you know when I.E. came out?
    Yes, yes he said, no matter just open Firefox or Chrome.
    I don’t have them either I said, do you know when they came out?

    How do you connect to the internet he asked.
    I don’t have the internet I replied Whats that?

    With that there was a click and the phone went dead……………….

    And just when I was starting to warm up!

  4. Just reading the above story was quite funny. I hope I can do something similar if “they” call. Where do I sign up?