Microsoft support scam continues to plague Australians

Australians continue to be contacted by scammers over the phone promoting themselves as official Microsoft support representatives and offering to fix their computer troubles.

The scam, which preys on the notion that most households have a computer running Windows, first began almost two years ago, and sees someone ring an Australian's home phone number claiming to be from Microsoft support and mentioning that a virus or problem has been discovered with their computer. The scammers then ask the person for remote access to their computer, assuring them the process is "completely safe" and that they'll do their best to fix the problem.

A short time later, after exploiting the computer and pretending to fix the problem which didn't exist in the first place, the scammers then ask the person to pay for the service with many Australians falling victim and handing the scammers their credit card details for payment.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, "thousands" of Australians have been targeted by the scam which in recent months appears to have resurfaced after widespread publicity raised awareness of the scam late last year. In December, Microsoft Australia told the paper the company was receiving between 2 and 50 complaints per day about the scam, but remains powerless to act against it.

"There's a number of different organisations doing this and they're changing their names almost constantly - we hear new names every week," Stuart Strathdee, Microsoft Australia's chief security advisor told the Sydney Morning Herald in December.

Australian authorities remain powerless to act against the scammers, who are based overseas and difficult to track down. Instead, they're urging Australians to hang up on the scammers and not allow them access to their personal computer.

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