Tag Archives: common

The most common scam

The most common scam I see is the “Your computer is infected and Windows is locked” screen that tells you to call Microsoft using the scam phone number provided. I get calls about this scam about once a week. The screen may start as a website that might easily have been closed, but a single click anywhere inside the window will make it full screen and more difficult to eliminate. An example is below, but I have seen several variations. The common theme is they all ask you to call a scam phone number, and there is a loud audio voice-over telling you to call the phone number. This version below even told the victim that their computer was “infecting Microsoft servers”, and it is also trying to steal the users email address and password.

It seems to occur most often when the user is simply browsing the internet, but may happen more often on click-bait websites like Hollywood news, recipes, or other celebrity news websites.

The fix is easy, if you know how: simply press Control-Alt-Delete on your keyboard, click Task Manager; in the Processes tab, right-click on a browser at the top of the list such as Google Chrome, Firefox, or Microsoft Edge, and click “End Task”. The offending screen will disappear. When re-starting your browser, do NOT click “restore pages”. You may wish to erase your browser History by pressing Control-Shift-Delete in your browser.

I have found that Edge may be better at stopping this scam from appearing than Chrome or Firefox, especially with the extra security features turned on.

There is also a Mac version. The fix in this case is to press Option-Command-Escape to get the “Force Quit” window, then select the affected browser, and click the “Force Quit” button. Do not restore pages when re-starting your browser. Use Command-Shift-Delete to delete your browser history.