If you use Microsoft XP operating system on your computer, it will still work on April 9, but you should know a few things. Microsoft will no longer provide security updates on XP systems, leaving them vulnerable to hackers, viruses, and security risks.
Trying to keep the bugs out of the XP system on your own will be hard enough, and the scammers are aware of this. The scammers will be calling.
Recently speaking in Nampa, three-fourths of the people in the audience raised their hands saying they are hooked up to the Internet. A third of those said they’ve already been contacted by someone purporting to be from Microsoft.
Microsoft is not going to call you claiming there is a problem with your XP system. Microsoft’s Online Safety and Security Center states neither Microsoft nor its partners make unsolicited phone calls. Anti-malware updates for Microsoft Security Essentials will continue for a while, although you’ll no longer be able to download it on XP if you don’t already have it. But they won’t do much good without access to regular security updates.
According to Microsoft, once these scammers have access to the computer they can install malicious software, steal personal information, take control of the computer remotely or direct consumers to fraudulent websites where they are asked to enter their credit card information.
Cybercriminals claim to represent:
- Windows Helpdesk
- Windows Service Center
- Microsoft Tech Support
- Microsoft Support
- Windows Technical Department Support Group
- Microsoft Research and Development Team (Microsoft R & D Team)
BBB advises consumers follow these tips to protect themselves from scammers attempting to get access to their computer:
- Go through your service provider directly. If you are concerned your computer may be exposed to viruses or other security threats, contact your service provider directly. Some providers offer free tools that can help detect and remove viruses.
- Install virus detection. To help protect your computer from viruses make sure you have virus detection software installed on your computer. This software can also help identify if a virus appears on your computer.
- Don’t trust cold calls. Never give out personal information, over the phone, to someone you don’t know. If the caller claims there is a security threat to your computer, hang up and call your computer company directly.
- Find a computer repair company you can trust. Go to bbb.org to find a BBB Accredited Business you can trust.
Microsoft was asked to extend its deadline for ending support for Windows XP, but declined and instead offered — for new fees — “custom support agreements” offering limited protection. Custom government software built to run on the XP operating system has slowed the transition, and its the government that is asking for deadline extension.
Consumer Reports magazine says there are three necessary steps to take if your continue using the XP system to make sure your ID is secure. Upgrade your PC to Windows 7 or Windows 8.1, or buy a new computer; Back up all your files on an external hard drive; Move your data to your new PC.
Bottomline: By the way, if you have Office 2003 — support ends on April 8, so these tips apply to you as well.