Here's how fake telephone tech support scams work

Interested in finding out how fake telephone tech support scams work? Well, grab a cup or glass of your favorite beverage, and prepare to be educated, entertained, and horrified.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor

Chances are that you or someone you know has gotten a call from someone claiming to be from "Windows technical support" phoning up to tell you that you "computer has a virus" and offering to remove it for you - for a fee.

See also: What's the best and worst browser for Windows 10?

Now I don't know about you, but I've never had the time (or patience) to play along, so I've always been curious to find out how the conversation pans out.

Well, if you're interested in finding out what happens, grab a cup or glass of your favorite beverage, fire up YouTube, and prepare to be educated, entertained, and horrified.

Troy Hunt, security expert, Microsoft Regional Director and MVP, and the brains behind the Have I been pwned? data breach service, takes the time to show us exactly what happens.

What amazes me is how long and ponderous these scams are. I find it hard to believe that anyone would stay on the phone for so long and put up with it all. .

Now before I give you the impression that it's all fun and games scamming the scammers, I want to make it clear that it's actually serious business, because as soon as the scammers catch wind of the fact that they are being scammed, they turn nasty and start trashing the PC they are supposed to be "fixing."

Things can also get verbally nasty, even going as far as death threats.

Now I know that someone who reads this column is unlikely to fall for these sorts of scams (don't they all seem so horribly transparent?), but I hear from people every week who have, or who know a friend or relative who got sucked in. So take your time to do your bit and educate others about these scams.

And while it might be fun to scam the scammers - if you have the time and patience - the best advice on how to deal with these sorts of phone calls is to say "no thank you" and put the phone down.

Don't be sucked into a discussion, don't provide any personal information, and don't allow them access to your PC.

Also, if you see any popups while surfing the web telling you that there's a problem with your PC and you need to call a number or visit a website to fix it, these are also scams.

The FTC has more information on how to deal with telephone scams, and specifically tech support scams on its website.

Best laptops for work and play (July 2016 edition)

See also:

Editorial standards