Fake Blue Screen of Death

fake-bsodFake Blue Screen of Death: a reader asks…

Hi Chris, I’ve been getting the dreaded “Blue Screen of Death” on my computer at odd times, usually about once a day or every few days. Here’s a screenshot. Should I call the support number listed? I’m very worried my computer is really messed up. Also, how did this happen, I’m using the protection programs you recommended!

Stop, do not proceed. This is a scam. I’m glad you sent me a screenshot. A true Windows BSOD happens after Microsoft Windows crashes. The fact that you have your Windows 7 Start button and taskbar means that Windows is still working. the border around the BSOD is a typical program window, so it is definitely not a BSOD, just a craftily-made scam. A true BSOD is pretty unintelligible, and doesn’t give clear instructions, nor a phone number to call.

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Whatever you do, do not call the number. Likely the scammer/hacker on the other end will try to talk you into letting him/her remote control your computer, and may want your credit card number so they can charge up fake fix-work. It is pretty easy to create a window that will display in a web browser that has few of the usual things a browser window would show, like the favorites bar and menu items. Scammers then distribute a hyperlink to this web page that can be in an email, PDF or web page, and hidden or made to appear in any way they like.

frustrated-woman-in-front-of-computer-image-from-shutterstockIt’s unlikely that just showing that web page infected your computer, but you should update and scan with your protection programs. You should know that no protection is 100% effective, and hackers are always dreaming up new ways to fool people. It’s not a shortfall of the protection programs, it’s a shortfall of human nature. We are trusting souls and often lack the appropriate level of paranoia that the digital age requires.

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