Scam Alert: “Expiring License” Scam Tricks Microsoft Windows Users



Microsoft announced that they are no longer providing technical assistance, software updates, or bug fixes for Windows 7. It’s big news for users of the popular operating system. The announcement is giving scammers an opportunity to confuse Windows users into paying to update their “expiring Windows license” – whether they need to or not, according to recent BBB Scam Tracker reports.

How the Scam Works

You receive a call from someone who claims to be a concerned Microsoft employee. They explain that you need to upgrade your operating system if you want your computer to keep working. The caller may say that you need to upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 10, or simply that your Windows license is expiring.

The caller may seem friendly and helpful, but they are far from it. They may convince you to pay yearly fees (that don’t exist) or request remote access to your computer under the guise of installing software.  If you pay the fees, you could lose hundreds of dollars. But if you allow the scammer access to your computer, your secure personal information, such as banking details and login credentials, can be compromised. This puts you at risk for identity theft.

How to Protect Yourself from Tech Scams

  • Don’t trust unsolicited callers. Reputable companies don’t call consumers without their permission.
  • Double check unusual claims. If someone calls you claiming you have a problem you had no idea existed, don’t take their word for it. Hang up and do some research before you accept any help. In the BBB Scam Tracker reports, victims report that they were already using Windows 10 when they got a call claiming they needed to upgrade.
  • Never allow a stranger remote access to your computer. If you have a genuine tech problem, get help from a reputable company or individual.
  • Get tech information straight from the source. If your computer runs Windows, for example, find out about updates, new operating systems, and tech support directly from Microsoft. Double check you are on the official website or calling the real support line before you share personal information or pay any money.

For More Information

We checked with Microsoft, and they confirm that the company never reaches out to offer support by phone or pop-up on your computer screen. All support requests are initiated by customers. Microsoft won’t reimburse scam victims for money or gift cards given to scammers, but they are happy to check over your computer to make sure any viruses or malware have been removed. Report tech support scams to Microsoft here, and get information about upgrading from Windows 7 here.

For more information, see the BBB.org/TechSupportScam tips. BBB’s research on why some people are more susceptible to scams is available at BBB.org/ExposedToScams.

If you’ve been the victim of a scam, whether you’ve lost money, report it at BBB.org/ScamTracker. Your report can help others stay alert and informed and avoid similar scams.

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