Every day, at least 3 to 4 Belgians fall victim to fraudsters pretending to be Microsoft or Apple technicians. They lose an average of 1,000 to 10,000 euros, but there are also cases where fraudsters have captured more than 100,000 euros. The annual loss could run into the millions.
This type of scam, also known as the “Microsoft scam” or “Tech Scam”, is a major threat. Fraudsters are still managing to fool people this way.
Microsoft Scam: what exactly is that?
Everyone knows the stories. You get a called on your landline by someone pretending to work for Microsoft or Apple. They claim you have a problem with your computer and that they can help you. Currently, the first contact is also different: suddenly a virus message appears on your screen and your computer crashes. You are invited to call a 078 number where they pretend to be happy to help you and keep you on the (paying) line for a long time.
Often the person speaks poor Dutch or only English. This scammer leads you to believe that there is a security problem with your computer and proposes to secure your computer. He or she then asks you to take certain actions: start up the computer, go to a certain website or download an application. Some will try to sell you an unknown piece of antivirus software to remove the viruses that you do not even have.
In this way, the scammers can access your computer. They try to frighten their victims and often come across as very threatening. Not only do they take over your screens and block your computer, but they are not afraid to remotely activate your printer or your webcam. They also force people to switch off their mobile phones in order to prevent victims from being notified, for example, if their bank tries to warn them because they noticed a suspicious transaction.
Their end goal is to steal money from your bank account. To solve the problem, you have to pay first. The fraudster will lead you to a website where you have to make a purchase, from where they will steal your bank details and empty your entire bank account. There are also cases where people are asked to open a Bitcoin account to transfer the amounts. Of course, this is very suspicious.
- Always distrust phone calls from companies that ask you to perform a number of actions on your computer.
- Microsoft will never make unsolicited contact you to report a problem.
- Do not allow someone you don't know to take over your computer.
- Do not make any payments, not even for a few euros, while a stranger has taken over your computer.
- Remove any applications or programs that you installed on your computer at the request of the scammer.
- Perform a full virus scan and remove any malware found.
- Change your passwords, if you've shared them.
- If your screen is blocked, you can close the browser via Ctrl-Shift-Esc and then End Task.