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Microsoft Pri0

Welcome to Microsoft Pri0: That's Microspeak for top priority, and that's the news and observations you'll find here from Seattle Times technology reporter Matt Day.

October 3, 2012 at 9:00 AM

FTC, Microsoft, others combatting international tech-support scam

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission, along with their counterparts in Australia and Canada, and Microsoft representatives announced this morning a crackdown on an international computer tech-support scam.

The scam involves telemarketers posing as employees of Microsoft or other major computer companies. The scammers call people, saying the computers of the people they call are infected and offering to fix them remotely for a fee. In addition to asking for people’s credit card numbers, the scammers also sometimes asked people to take steps that led to the scammers gaining remote access to their victims’ computers.

The scam is thought to have affected tens of thousands of people in several countries including the U.S., U.K., Australia and Canada, according to participants in the news conference held this morning in Washington, D.C.

In the U.S., the FTC has identified defendants they believe committed these scams, won court orders freezing those defendants’ assets, shut down the domain names they’ve operated under and asked U.S. phone companies to shut down phone lines that the scammers were using.

Frank Torres, director of consumer affairs and senior policy counsel for Microsoft, said during the event that “these scams can not only cost victims money, but can compromise the security of their computers.”

“Microsoft will never cold call a consumer and ask for their credit card number to charge them for a service they don’t need,” he added.

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