The world of technology is really disgusting at times, with its scams and trickery. I’m here to help you make sense of it, to provide some I.T. therapy. We have to fight back or at least mount a strong defense.
** Want to get one quick point out of the way: No new consumer focused Macs have been announced yet. I expect laptops and desktops, along with a new iPad Pro by the end of the month ***
Fake E-Mails and Calls – A Lesson for All
I made an emergency visit to a client earlier this week. The report I got was that a SPAM email was opened and then calls started pouring in from “Microsoft.” Then the client claimed to have found the number for Microsoft and called them with a message and an expectation of a call back. This really had my wheels turning. The client used a Microsoft email account (Outlook.com, formerly known as Hotmail.com). When I got there, I saw what had happened. The email talked about an email upgrade in 2018. To be fair, sometimes Microsoft or other email providers do upgrade their services and let users know the details. However, the e-mail was sloppily composed. It was as if an elementary student decided to try out size 48 font. Furthermore, the sender’s address was @outlook.com. An official e-mail from Microsoft would never look like this. It seemed like the mere opening of the e-mail triggered the sender to make a phone call to my client. The sender did not work for Microsoft. They are an absolute liar! Then my client searched through the MSN.com website for a Microsoft phone number, using the Bing search engine. Stuff like this wants to make me pull my fingernails out. They were asked to log into a Microsoft partner website on a Microsoft.com website address, then receive a call back. Calls were made to and from a phone number with a 425 area code. It’s very convenient that that area code pertains to the part of the country where Microsoft is headquartered. When I arrived, the client was waiting on a call back from the 425 number. I investigated the phone number and the advice I gathered said to avoid it and do not take the calls. Therefore, the second call after the initial scam call was very suspicious. Another liar? It doesn’t even matter at this point. With the right software, bad actors can pretend to use legitimate numbers.
Due to the fact that my client used a Microsoft e-mail account and they logged into Windows 10 with this account (the default option these days), and was logged into the Edge browser with it as well, I immediately had them change the password to the account. I also ran a malware scan on the computer and found no infections. The client is already using one of my strategies to defeat scam calls — a cheap answering machine with an external speaker. Taking it to the next level, a call blocker can be used as well. This model gets outstanding reviews on Amazon and blocks up to 2000 numbers. https://amzn.to/2OyFwzG An upgraded model that blocks 5000 numbers costs a few $$ more.
In less than one hour, I helped to restore sanity to a troubling situation. Had a different career path worked out for me, I would have become a psychotherapist. Right now, I’m just happy to be your technology therapist. 🙂
Bottom line: Microsoft, Google or Apple are not going to call you. In some cases, these companies will call you after a case has already been opened. With the exception of Apple, which makes their support number public, do not go Googling numbers for Microsoft and Google. I have seen this end in pain too many times. Also — leave SPAM e-mails alone unless you are sure it was mistakenly placed there.
Musical pick of the week: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OnVUKES-mDE