My phone was ringing off the hook one recent Saturday, three calls in just a few hours from different people claiming to be from Microsoft or other software companies, all with the same alarming news: A virus had been spotted on my computer. My machine would be crippled unless I followed their advice and downloaded a program to fix the problem.
The Computer Repair Scam has returned. If my repeated treks to the phone aren't evidence enough, consider recent warnings — from the Better Business Bureau, Royal Canadian Mounted Police and others — about the very real trouble that can result.
The caller may press you to buy a particular "security" program or try to steer you to a website for the "necessary repair." Either way, the intent is to trick you into downloading software that gives these crooks remote access to your computer — and everything stored on it. That can compromise your bank and credit card accounts, among other things.
In the past, a company calling itself Support on Click was scamming folks with phony alerts. Now others are eager to take its place.
In truth, Microsoft does not make calls or send e-mail warnings of an infection in a particular computer. Nor do makers of antivirus software, another false identity that these scammers sometimes use.