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  • Emma Lake Boydston

Phone Number ≠ Microsoft Defender

I’ve harped on this before but it bears repeating: if you are browsing the internet and your computer starts blaring with a “Microsoft Defender” virus warning that prompts you to call a phone number – it is fake! Not a week goes by that I don’t get a panicked phone call from a user about this scam (and lately multiple times a week). The alert is a specially-crafted website pop-up that is designed to elevate your anxiety and get you to call the flashing phone number. If you do, you will be speaking with a scammer who lies about being official Microsoft (or Norton/McAfee/Apple/etc.) support. Their goal is to have you give them remote control of your computer, at which point all sorts of havoc ensues. These over-the-top alerts are almost comical, if only they weren’t so deceptive and effective. The simple rule of thumb is if the message prompts you to call a phone number, it is fake! You might be able to close the browser window using Task Manager, but the simplest solution is to shut down your computer by holding the power button for 10 seconds, then turning it back on again.

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