Scams Target Seniors

Recently four of my students have called me to report a phone call they received from someone with a very thick accent claiming to be from well-known computer company telling them, “You have a virus on your computer.”

The “agent” on the phone then requested permission to take control of their computer in order to solve the computer issues. Fortunately, three of my four students said no to this request. The fourth student told them to get off of the computer shortly after they took it over. After she did this she wondered if they did something to her computer.

Here are a few suggestions from Microsoft to protect yourself against such scams:

  1. If you receive a phone call from someone claiming to be from Microsoft, hang up. According to Microsoft, they “do not send unsolicited email messages or make unsolicited phone calls to request personal or financial information or to fix your computer,” (
  2. Do not purchase software or services from an unsolicited party.
  3. If there is any type of fee associated with the call, hang up.
  4. Do not give permission for a third party to access your computer unless you can confirm that it is a legitimate representative of a computer support team with whom you are already a customer. For example: If you call the internet provider that you currently use for help with an issue on your computer and their technical support can help you by taking over your computer, it’s okay to give them permission. The difference here is that you are paying them for internet service and YOU asked for their help.
  5. Never provide your credit card or financial information to someone claiming to be from Microsoft tech support.

Scams are not new, and the best way to deal with them is to be educated about ways to protect yourself. If you receive a phone call that you think is suspicious, ask questions and write down information. Ask someone you trust about what to do. If you feel uncomfortable, there’s probably a good reason for that. Remember you can always hang up your telephone!

A few more suggestions ...

If you receive a phone call that you believe is fraudulent, you may report it to the Federal Trade Commission at the following website:

Because scammers often use a telephone directory to obtain phone numbers, you may also want to list your phone number with the National Do Not Call Registry on their website at: or by calling: 1-888-382-1222 from the phone number you wish to submit.

Knowledge is power! Take a class to further educate yourself.