URGENT: Very Nasty Scam

Fake "Microsoft Support" pop-ups like the one in the actual screenshot below are multiplying like cockroaches lately. Typically, they contain scary warnings and urgent admonitions to "Call Microsoft immediately!" with a phone number.

Scams like this are a triple threat: very common, very deceptive, and very dangerous. Please warn your friends and family. (Especially the less tech-savvy and more technology-anxious).
If something like this shows up on your screen:
  • DO NOT call the number: it’s NOT really Microsoft. 
  • DO NOT allow the “technician” to access your computer, because if you do you’ll shortly be asked for payment; and here’s the worst part: as soon as you refuse payment or express suspicion, the scammers will maliciously RUIN YOUR COMPUTER—delete your files, lock you out, or lay waste to your operating system.  (You can actually watch this for yourself, if you like: see a ‘white hat’ hacker trolling, or baiting and fooling, the scammers here.)
  • If they are already connected to your computer, play along; don't let them know you are suspicious, just disconnect from the internet as fast as possible—or shut off the power if you have to—but get them OFF your computer as quickly as you can before they can do any damage.  If you hang up, and leave them connected to the computer, you're sunk.

What SHOULD you do? Just close the pop up window, or the browser. Run a virus scan. 

Sorry for the grim news, but these jerks infuriate me.  The more aware we are, the less successful they'll be.

Alison Holtzschue
and the computers dot mom team