Pittsburgh, PA – The classic tech support scam, in which scammers pose as tech support employees of well-known computer companies and convince victims into paying for “support,” is back with a twist in 2020. Due to Microsoft no longer providing technical assistance, software updates or bug fixes for Windows 7, the Better Business Bureau is warning users to beware of scams attempting to capitalize on this situation.

According to recent BBB Scam Tracker reports, scammers are attempting to deceive Windows users into paying to upgrade their computer operating system from Windows 7 to Windows 10, by claiming that their license has expired. The caller may try to convince the victim to pay non-existent annual fees or request remote access to their computer under the guise of installing software. Paying the “fees” may result in financial loss, but allowing the scammer to access your device puts you at risk of identity theft.

“Microsoft requires all support requests be initiated by their customers and will never reach out to offer support by phone or computer pop-up,” says Warren King, president of the Better Business Bureau of Western PA. “If you continue to use Windows 7, though your computer will still work, it is more vulnerable to security risks and viruses, so you should contact a legitimate computer technical support company or Microsoft directly for assistance with upgrading your system.”

Protect yourself from tech support scams with the following BBB tips:

Be suspicious of unsolicited outreach. Reputable companies don’t contact consumers without their permission and in this case, Microsoft requires their customers to initiate all support requests.

Investigate unusual claims. If someone contacts you claiming you have a problem you had no idea existed, don’t take their word for it. Do some independent research before you accept any help. In BBB Scam Tracker reports, victims indicate that they were already using Windows 10 when they received a call claiming they needed to upgrade their system.

Never allow a stranger remote access to your computer. If you have a genuine technical problem with your device, seek help from a reputable company or individual.

Go straight to the source. If your computer runs Windows, find out about updates, new operating systems and tech support directly from Microsoft. Confirm you are on the official website or call the legitimate support line before you share personal or financial information, as Microsoft will not reimburse scam victims for money or gift cards given to scammers.

For more information on how to avoid tech support scams, visit bbb.org. Report tech support scams to Microsoft here and access information about upgrading from Windows 7. If you encounter or have been the victim of a scam, report your experience to BBB Scam Tracker to help warn others and prevent further instances of fraud.

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ABOUT BBB: For more than 100 years, the Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2018, people turned to BBB more than 173 million times for BBB Business Profiles on more than 5.4 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at bbb.org. There are local, independent BBBs across the United States, Canada and Mexico, including your BBB Serving Western Pennsylvania, which was founded in 1931 and serves the 28 counties of Western PA.