Windows Error Log Phone Call Scam

The other day I got an interesting phone call from ‘Microsoft Support’. Actually, this was a scam or fake Microsoft call and it seems like a few people I know have received similar calls too, so I thought a quick post might help others out there.

The Windows Error Log Phone Call

The phone went and a guy on the other end introduced himself as Kevin from the Microsoft Support Department. (Other friends have been called by Steve and Mike. ) The caller had an Indian accent and didn’t strike me as your run-of-the-mill Kevin, but I guess I could be a little unfair on this count… He told me that the support department had received a number of error log reports that had been traced back to my computer. He had obviously got my details from the electoral register or by other means and wanted me to boot up the machine so he could talk me through the errors and fix them.

I asked what the errors were but he insisted on me starting the machine so he could go through them with me because “it would be easier”. I kept asking what messages he had got and where he got my number. He told me it was from the host PC I used when registering Windows. I asked which version and was told that the reports relate to Windows 7, Windows Vista and Windows XP. Didn’t the report tell him which version they were being generated by, I asked? I then told him that actually, I don’t own a PC and only run a virtual Windows machine on my Mac, which is on a local development server used for nothing other than looking at my own websites on Internet Explorer.

I was put on hold before his “supervisor” took over. He introduced himself as the Mac specialist and asked me to boot the virtual machine. I kept asking why (by this stage I was like a cat with a mouse!!!) and how was he going to be able to help? He said he would give me some details so he could log in remotely and fix the errors directly from the Microsoft Support Centre.

Basically, he wanted me to hand over control of my computer to someone who had called me out of the blue, on the most flimsy of premises and with no evidence to support his laughable attempt to remotely hack my Mac. Furthermore, can you seriously imagine Microsoft phoning anybody to offer support? When I said this to him, the call ended rather quickly with him hanging up.

Funny that…

I hope nobody has been burnt by these chancers. If you have had a similar call and DID allow access to your machine, I wouldn’t be surprised if they didn’t get you to install something nasty or leave a backdoor open for them. Contact a reputable computer expert and get their advice asap.

For reference, I live in North London, UK.

Originally published December 6 2011.

UPDATE – July 8 2013

I have just had the call again, this time from another guy with a strong Indian accent calling himself Patrick, from a company called Technical Department Ezure! He said they are based in New Jersey US and their phone number is 020 328 98952. I’m aware these callers are still very active so let all your friends and family, particularly the less net-savvy ones know about this.

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  1. Dan S.

    I found this blog because I got this type of phone call today and I wanted to see if others had, as well.

    I assumed it was a scam very quickly. Not only were they getting “errors messages from my PC” (I don’t hace a PC), but I’ve never know of Windows or Mac to volunteer to call people out of the blue to offer technical help.

    I really wish I had recorded the phone call. I was passed to three different people, all of whom had the pleasure of me calling them liars, scammers, and criminals. Shockingly, they were willing to put up with a lot of my abuse before finally hanging out.


  2. Abe Wachsman

    The problem persists, and if the web chatter is any indication, appears to be spreading. I received two such calls on two successive days, and the profile matches the one described. Inasmuch as I run Mac’s exclusively, and as the only Windows instance I run operates as an OS under VMWare Fusion, I told the caller that it seemed unlikely that any of my systems would have generated the types of errors he described. After tolerating several seconds of the caller’s gobbledegook (I’ve worked in systems for decades), it stopped being amusing and I threatened to start a call trace.

    The caller actually became verbally abusive at that point – we exchanged some novel expletives, at which point I terminated the call.

    • Stuart

      Thanks for sharing your experience Abe.

  3. John

    Error log scam hits Spain. They tried it on us, unsuccessfully, but be warned that they are well versed in hypnotic sales techniques – if they hadn’t pretended to be calling from Microsoft (I mean, the very idea!), I might have taken longer to smell a rat. But they actually gave me their phone number so I could call them back. If you you want to have fun bugging them, it’s + 44 203 2860 882 – I know it is their number for an Indian woman answered saying “Hello, Technical Department”.

    • Stuart

      Excellent! Thanks for passing on their number John.

    • Colin Rivett

      I’d be very cautious about phoning an (0)203 number. Some of them are used at a very high charge (for you!).

      Over the last 4 years that I’ve been running my home computer tuition business I have had several of my clients report this experience. Being inexperienced, they fall for it, and do what the caller tells them. The scammer runs a bogus virus scan which reports 67 infections or whatever. The scammer then offers to remove them – how kind! I’ve heard of people paying from £80 -£200 over the phone, for nothing. And, of course, they’ve given out their bankers’ card number……

      Well, it happened to me this morning. A man of sounding of Asian origin said he was from Microsoft Technical Department and that he had reports that there were errors in my Internet browser. I played along, sounding impressed and grateful and just a little bit dithery. He told me to turn on my PC – I was sitting at it already – and click on the Windows flag in the bottom left corner. I played dumb and dithery for a minute or so, to lead him on a bit, but really I had better things to do, so I said

      “You tell me I’ve got errors in my browser and you tell me I’m running Windows? But I’ve got a Mac…”

      And the phone went dead!

      Repeating my warning: DON’T phone back – you might find yourself paying them through you phonebill.


  4. Jackie

    Just wanted to say I’m in Australia, have been receiving these calls for months and ignoring them, letting the answering machine screen my calls, I only receive these call on my home phone, as I don’t use or provide this number to others, and that I’m on the Australian Do Not Call Register. These are the only telemarketing calls I get.
    I have been having trouble with trying to get them to stop, If its not an Indian sounding person Its a hang up call checking if I’m home.
    I’ve asked nicly for them to stop calling, I’m yelled at them to stop calling.
    I’ve told them in the past I dont have a computer, and they would not listen.
    I’ve told them I use Linux not Windows again they do not listen (same as people who have said they only use Macs)

    Today I told them my computer was “being repaired” in the hope he will stop calling, and he provide me with a number as well to call back on when My computer is out of the shop.. 02 82979691
    Then received a hang up call not 5 mins later.
    I have called Telstra (Australian Phone Company) about these scam calls, and they advised that they are calling from VOIP numbers which are untraceable outside of Australia. So there is nothing they can do.

    • Stuart

      Seems like this this scam is getting about! Thanks for sharing your experience.

  5. IPH

    I had two of these calls today 2012-09-10 morning and afternoon.
    In the first one I just said he knew as well as I did that he was lying. With the second I decided to play along. I let him tell me what to click, and (for those who don’t know) he asked me to select from the STart menu Computer Management error Logs, and when he told me to count the errors — the items in the list that were red icon errors or yellowicon warnings — it was going to take a long time as I have never cleared this list but going quickly to the oldest in the list (sorted by date, this is instant) the date was 2 years ago. I told him about twenty total.

    It was then that I told him I know this is a scam.

    What I recommend to everyone, if you want to spite these folk, is at least threaten to report them to Trading Standards and OfCom and get them shut down if not jailed; and also if you actually have a WIndows machine every so often go to the place (CDomputer | Management | Error Logs or equivalent depnding on version) and simply choose action clear items. You have the option to save the log to a file before clearing. That is up to you but I don’t bother. Then if and when any of these pests call you can just say the list is empty. No, I don’t have any errors at all. Bye.

    If you are a Windows user nervous of the implications of these errors in your system, let me tell you a story. Just now, after this caller — who had assured me he was a certified Microsoft systems engineer — had promised to delete my name and number from their list and see to it that nobody from his outfit ever called me again, and had hu8ng up, I clicked on one of the red icon error lines in this log (before clearing it to zero entries) and examined the details of the error. A new little window opened with a rather garbled text in it, but here is what it said the error was. It referred to a Microsoft .DLL file (that is Dynamic Link Library, and means it contains a tiny little add-on bit of Windows or other program code) but here it was related to the “photo gallery” function. It said that the format of the version number MAJOR_VERSION.MINOR_VERSION was invalid! Big deal.

    Just periodically clear the list if you are a WIndows user so that if you ever get such a call you can tell them you don’t have any errors!

    • Stuart

      Thanks for passing on your experience – and for the useful advice for Windows users. Really helpful!

  6. Julie Barrett

    Same thing happened to me today. Sounds like the same Indian company and when I told them I didn’t want them dialing into my computer the call ended abruptly. Thank goodness.

  7. Lyn

    I’ve just had the same call today from a female with an Indian accent, supposedly from Microsoft. I was immediately suspicious and told her to tell me step by step what to do and I would write it down and then first check if she was legit before i did it on my pc. She abruptly put the phone down. I’m in South Africa.

  8. MP

    This scam is still alive and well! Got a call this afternoon from a woman with a thick Indian accent, claiming to be from Windows Tech Department and she was seeing errors and was going to verify the ID number on my computer. I refused to do this over the phone and hung up. She had the nerve to call me back and asked why I hung up, I gave her shit over the phone. She put me through to the supervisor, another man with thick Indian accent named Christopher Greene (ha!) and provided me with a call back number (when googled it doesn’t look good for him). At this point I told him to never call me again. I’ve recorded the information and immediately reported it to my National Fraud Center here in Canada.

    • Stuart

      Thanks for posting Micheline.

  9. JN

    Got the same call yesterday from “Gloria.” I thought it was a Jamaican accent, but maybe it was Indian. She gave me the story about my pc having errors. I asked her how she knew that, and she said because I was registered with their server. I said, “No, I’m not. Don’t call me again.” To which she replied, “Oh, shut up!”

    I guess she didn’t like my response….

  10. Daniel Beardsley

    Thanks Stuart.
    I’ve been getting them for a long time now. California! Cant get them to stop calling. I know they use an auto dialer. He was very insistent that I turn on my computer. Finally I told the guy from India “This call is a scam”. Hung up on me!

  11. Cary Spenser

    I last a minute with these guys. Then I calmly ask if their parents are aware that they are involved in organized crime.

    My hope is that this caused 1-2 of these operators to quit.

    After several of these encounters it changed. Now when I get the autodialer calls, the connection is made and they hang up immediately.I assume that they have a CRM system that says “don’t bother.”

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