Tech support scams are becoming more and more prevalent and this is an industry wide issue.  Tech support scams prey on the ability to scare people into thinking there is something wrong with their computer and trick the unknowing into paying money to fix an issue that doesn't actually exist.  

These tech support scams usually start as a message on the internet or as an unsolicited phone call from someone claiming to be someone that they are not.  We've also seen instances where people have received letters claiming to be Microsoft, local authorities, and Internet Service Providers claiming that the recipient is infected.  These are not legitimate threats or concerns; these are scammers who are trying to steal your money!

No legitimate company, including VIPRE, will ever call,email, or write you, unsolicited, about your computer.  If this was from a message that appeared while you were on the internet, it was simply an advertisement designed to scare you into contacting the tech support scammers.

Below are some helpful links that we HIGHLY recommend reading as they contain a wealth of very useful information:

If you received a message while on your computer and need help closing it down, click the link below.

I received a pop up saying I'm infected and I can't close the window

If you let these people into your computer and are concerned about what they may have done while in the computer, we would recommend running a full scan with the VIPRE program to ensure that there are no threats on the machine.  Additionally, we would recommend contacting a qualified local computer technician or Microsoft for further assistance in ensuring that those who accessed your machine did not make any unauthorized changes to your computer.  

Common Scam Techniques

The scammers can be very convincing and are known to use a variety of different methods in an effort to convince you that there is an issue with your computer.  We'll cover a few of them below!

Command Prompt

Command prompt is a command-line interpreter that is used to communicate with your computer.  You can find information about your computer or tell certain aspects of your computer to perform tasks if you know the right commands and computer language to tell the computer what to do.  

This is certainly a more common scam method.  The image below show a technique that is often used to convince the unknowing that their computer is communicating with hackers. 

Other scam techniques can involve other commands like "ipconfig" or "dir /s" to you show you information that you do not recognize.  They may also physically type or paste a message to trick you into believing that you have a trojan or that your IP address has been compromised and often including typos (like the message seen below)!


The Windows Event Viewer application can be a very useful tool.  It is designed to store the event logs for the applications, security, and system information about your computer.  This can be used to track the events that led to a specific situation (such as tracking and allowing the proper diagnostic of a program that is not opening).  Tech support scam techniques often refer to errors or warnings as a way to convince people that they are at risk.  Every installation of Windows will have errors and warnings.  These are completely normal!

In the image below, we can see an example.  A scammer may use this information to scare someone that something is trying to get Local Activation permissions and that Microsoft stopped it and that you are under attack from an outside source!  This simply isn't the case.

Registry Editor

The registry is the portion of the operating system that is a database of a variety of items.  Settings, program locations, how/when to open programs, options and other information is found in the computer registry.  Tech support scammers may use the registry to show you entries that don't have a value set in an effort to lead you to believe that your computer isn't protected or that you need to pay for specialized software to take care of these items.  They are not needed.

The image below shows an example of a registry entry that a scammer may use to misconstrue you into believing you are at risk.

Blackmail and/or extortion emails

We've also seen situations where people receive unsolicited emails and/or letters in the mail.  These often inform that there is a threat (virus, malware, worm, trojan, etc) on their machine or that they were caught on camera watching sexually explicit content (but are not limited to only these items).  The scam often turns into a phone number to call, a website to visit, or a method to pay the person(s) who contacted you.  These emails and letters RARELY end up being from a legitimate source and they are hoping that you pay them to resolve a non-existent issue!

Unfortunately, some of these messages do cause need for alarm, but not in the way that the messages say!  These scammers often have a password listed that IS/WAS one of your passwords and is the result of a breach of a website.  We recommend ensuring that you change your passwords (especially for any accounts with the password listed) and use Password Best Practices.  

You can check your email address against KNOWN breached websites at .

An example of one of these types of emails is below.

Additional scam techniques can involve prefetch and temp files, using your task manager and resource monitor to trick you into believing there is an issue, searching the internet for a specific issue or going to a website directly to show you there is a problem, using a 3rd party application to show you something that is not actually an issue, using other Microsoft commands and programs to indicate something is wrong that isn't, and a large variety of other techniques!  There are hundreds of different things these scammers can do to try to trick you into buying something you don't need!

Remember, these tech support scammers make their living on scaring people into believing that there is something wrong.  They know all the right things to say to convince people.  No company will ever call you directly to tell you there is something wrong with your computer.  If you are ever concerned about something you believe is a threat, run a full scan with the VIPRE program and Contact Us for further support.