Microsoft recently announced that it will discontinue its support for Windows 7 effective on January 14, 2020. While it’s not uncommon for tech companies to move on from older operating systems, it does allow cybercriminals an opportunity to trick users into thinking they need to renew their license.
Continue reading to learn more about the “expiring license” scam. These tips could help you avoid losing hundreds of dollars along with your private information.
How the ‘Expiring License’ Scam Works
An unsuspecting victim will receive a phone call from someone claiming to be a Microsoft customer support representative. They will explain that in order to continue using your computer, you need to update your operating system.
They will either instruct you to upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 10 or inform you that your license is expiring and in need of renewal.
Unsupported software such as Windows 7 will no longer require any updates or license renewals. Frauds, however, operate under the assumption that users aren’t aware of this fact.
Once the user has been convinced to take action, the scammer requests fake yearly fees or remote access to the user’s computer in order to “install the latest software.” Of course, none of this is necessary in order to continue using the computer.
By the time the phone conversation is over, the user has lost hundreds of dollars in fake yearly fees. Or, they have welcomed a cybercriminal into their computer in order to retrieve personal information that can be used to steal their identity.
How to Avoid ‘Expiring License’ Scam
The Better Business Bureau lists several ways you can avoid scams like these:
- Well-respected companies do not bombard consumers with unsolicited phone calls. If you receive an unrequested phone call from someone claiming to be with a reputable company, hang up.
- If you receive a call from someone claiming that you have an issue or problem that you had no idea existed, be suspicious. Before following the caller’s instructions, conduct your own research. The BBB reported that many users were asked to upgrade to Windows 10 although they were already using it.
- Under no circumstance should you allow anyone remote access to your personal computer. If you have a legitimate tech emergency, take your computer to a professional. Also, note that all computer upgrades are available online. No professional would need remote access for this purpose.
- Retrieve all tech information straight from the source. Visit the Microsoft website for all news related to upgrades, new operating systems, and bug patches. Make sure you are calling the correct support line if you need further assistance.
Microsoft will not reimburse scam victims for money given to or stolen by scammers. However, they will check computers for viruses and malware and make sure they are completely removed.