My "golden years" are mostly wasted hanging out at Computer Central in Brazil where our son Nathan is owner and lead-technician. As one of my few "duties" there I've come up with a motto for 2013: "Get the Facts Before you get an axe!"
Once again I have a few non-geek observations which seem worthy of passing on to any non-geek readers who prefer facts over geek-speak.
FACT: Really bad guys are out there trying to contact you either because you have a computer, or through the computer you have. The good guys rarely initiate contact, and only if you have a previous relationship with said good guys. Good guys, for example, are the credit card companies who call when they see "suspicious" activity -- they are really good guys when you don't know what activity they're talking about.
The bad guys, however, are not so helpful; and almost always need your credit card info from you.
Short answer is, no, Microsoft does not know about the problems on your computer and does not call people frustrated with their computer. If they did they'd have to hire about a million callers to keep up with the frustration computers cause we not-geek-types.
This confidence game of "Microsoft" calling people has been going on for at least a year. Back on March 14, 2012, The Brazil Times published an article "Slow Computer Scam hits area" highlighting the problem. We had talked to paper about several reports coming in to us about these calls, including one to Nathan's home. According to the article the Indiana Attorney General's office was already aware of the scam.
Again on Oct. 26, an update was published under title "Community to be warned of computer scam." Nathan was quoted in the article "the scammer locks the computer out so the victim can't get back into it."
And, it's not over yet. As recently as last week we had a customer who happened to receive one of these calls right after converting to DSL service. It was just a coincidence the call came when it did, of course; but the sheer volume of these calls will yield something. Being on the no-call list is no defense, either. In the computer age bad guys can be anywhere on earth and call any place toll free.
Keep these facts in mind when you "hear from" some Internet "connection" you don't recognize:
If you get an unsolicited call claiming they found problems on your computer, just hang up.
Never give credit card information when you did not initiate the call. If nothing else, get their number and call them back (Googling the number first).
Once the bad guys get access to your computer, and control over it, it cannot really be fixed "remotely". A skilled technician is going to have to clean out whatever the bad guys did.
And, most importantly, don't take an axe to your PC -- "Get the Facts before you get an axe!"
David L. Lewis is an observer of and sometimes commentator on life who can be reached at email@example.com