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Microsoft's advice: Hang up on tech support scammers

Gregg Keizer | Oct. 28, 2015
'We've got to put somebody in jail for these folks to take us seriously,' counters Sen. McCaskill (D-Missouri)

"Discovered I also have been scammed by the Windows tech support," echoed Sharon Minehart, also last month. "Of course I let them in after several weeks of non-stop calls."

When even those who know of the scams' intent weary of the constant calls to the point where they surrender by picking up the phone -- violating Finn's don't-engage rule -- the frustration level has clearly hit the high side of the meter.

Safari alert 
A typical tech-support scam, this one targeted at Mac Safari users. Credit: Malwarebytes

While the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has sued several alleged scammers -- some in India, a hotbed for the racket, some in the U.S. -- and Microsoft has done likewise, there's no sign that those spotty actions have had any impact.

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri), the ranking member on the committee, was frustrated, too, by the lack of progress against scammers, who have been targeted with civil, not criminal, lawsuits. "We've got to put somebody in jail for these folks to take us seriously," McCaskill said during the hearing.

She compared the efforts put into finding and prosecuting robberies with the lackluster labors against tech support scammers. "Compare and contrast [that with] the amount of time and energy we spend going after robbers that are depriving seniors of their money, their dignity, and more importantly, isolating them," McCaskill said. "What they're doing is beyond cruel. If you are a senior and you feel that you can't answer your phone, then your life can become incredibly lonely. Your life can be so limited ... to the walls of your home.

"It is so frustrating to me that we can't collectively get the political will to decide that some of these people need to go to prison," McCaskill added.


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