Inside a ‘Microsoft’ Call Center

Office for Mere Mortals
Your beginners guide to the secrets of Microsoft Office
Invalid email address
Tips and help for Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook from Microsoft Office experts.  Give it a try. You can unsubscribe at any time.  Office for Mere Mortals has been running for over 20 years, we've never, ever revealed or sold subscriber details.  Privacy policy

A BBC Panorama special ‘Spying on the Scammers’ is a view inside a ‘Microsoft’ call center which is really a scam to scare people, steal their money and infect their computers.

The special is available in the UK on iPlayer. There’s also this six minute version available worldwide.

“Panorama has obtained hacked CCTV footage from inside one scam call centre that shows exactly how it works.”

Thanks to Office Watch Friend Bob D. for the TV tip.

What you need to know

Make sure your elderly and less computer savvy relatives and friends are also wary of these scams.

  • If your computer pops up with a warning about a problem or virus do NOT call the number given. Microsoft Windows does NOT show phone support numbers even if there is an error or virus found.
  • IGNORE any unexpected or ‘cold’ support calls. Put down the phone on unprompted computer support calls.

Our article Office & Windows support scams still going includes a real example of a scam selling fake and unnecessary Windows plus antivirus for hundreds of dollars.

Protect yourself from Microsoft Office phone scams

Microsoft does NOT call customers offering support.

Microsoft does NOT call customers offering support.  While the company does have some monitoring of Windows, it’s mostly (hopefully) for statistical purposes.  Any info is not used to help individual computer users when there’s a problem.

If someone calls saying there’s a problem with your computer or offering support … ignore them completely.  Put down the phone right away.

No phone numbers in error messages

Windows and Microsoft Office do NOT put phone numbers in their error messages.

Windows Defender may alert you to a virus infection but does NOT give a phone support number.

Any phone number shown might appear to be local or national but it’ll be redirected to a call center anywhere in the world.

Not just Microsoft

The same applies to error messages or calls from ‘Google’ ‘Apple’ or any other tech company.  Don’t call the number or hang up right away

Definitely do NOT allow anyone to remotely access your computer (unless you know them personally). Remote access support is very handy (we use it often) but only if you personally know the person taking control of your machine.

If you’re feeling wicked …

If you feel like a bit of payback and have the time; leave the scammer hanging on the line and waste their time while you ‘start up the computer’, ‘remember my login password’, ‘get the washing off the line’ etc.

Office & Windows support scams still going

Protect yourself from Microsoft Office phone scams