Microsoft said an error has been detected on my PC. Is it a scam?

Have you received a phone call purporting to be from Microsoft tech support saying an error has been detected on your PC? It's a scam. Here's what to do next. (Also see: Microsoft phone scam: don't be a victim)

A reader wrote in to Helproom to ask the following question: "On Monday my husband received a phone call from someone claiming to be from Microsoft and that an error has been detected on our PC. I recently updated my computer with antivirus and it showed no errors or viruses. See all PC security advice.

"On Thursday, I received another call, also purportedly from Microsoft, saying that there was an error. Again, I told them that I had updated my antivirus and no errors had been detected and that I would prefer them to speak to my husband and he would be back from work later.

"I know they are going to call back. What do I do? Something doesn’t seem right as we have had a computer for years and until this year have never been contacted by Microsoft."

Here's how we solved their problem. Also see: Best antivirus

An error has been detected on my PC. Is it a scam?

We get many messages similar to this every month, but it can’t hurt to repeat that this is simply a scam and most certainly not Microsoft calling.

Giving a stranger access to your computer or online passwords can have devastating consequences including theft of your identity and your money. Microsoft will never call you like this and you should never allow access to your PC or give out any passwords to anyone who calls you claiming to have detected an error on your computer. Hang up and don’t talk to them.

Every few days, we receive an email detailing how a phone caller purportedly from Microsoft has locked down a reader’s computer with a password - which, of course, will only be provided on payment of a fee. If this has happened to you, we recommend turning off your computer and taking it to a trusted repair technician, who will hopefully be able to back up and restore all of your data, while ensuring no back doors have been left which might allow the scammers re-entry into your system.