Beware of scams and fraud

This morning I had several calls from someone (clearly from India) purporting to be from “technical support”, who started asked stupidly invasive questions.

Friends, legitimate tech support for your products does NOT call you out of the blue and tell you to do things.

NEVER NEVER NEVER do what these people ask or offer.



See my

Also, please know that this blog is under constant attack.   I will need some real help real soon to correct some things.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, ASK FATHER Question Box. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. JARay says:

    It is a sad fact of life that these scammers are a growing bunch both on the phone and on the internet. I am sick of them all. Here in Australia the polititians are an increasing menace to the children of this country. The aim is the destruction of the family and and the bedrock of civilisation. If the Left win our forthcoming election then all schools will be forced to promote “gender equality” and will teach children as young as 7 to experiment in changing their gender! The State of Victoria already mandates this in all its schools.

  2. Another one going around is a call to your cell phone from someone purporting to be from the IRS (here in the states, the numbers seem to be spoofed to look like they’re coming from Washington state, though, I think they wanted to say DC…no one said criminals were smart, right?) about the lawsuit they have just filed against you, and to expect a visit from the local “cops’ with a warrant for your arrest if you don’t call back and acknowledge this ‘final attempt’ at contacting you.

    Uh huh. If you are in dutch with the feds for something wrong, you can expect a registered return receipt letter. If you are really in arrears…well, the car will be marked US Marshal. Not the local ‘cops’.

    Just like email, where you can buy a million email addresses (which is why you NEVER ever click on an “unsubscribe’ link in a spam email; all you’ve done is confirm that the email address is valid, and they’re worth 2x what just an un-scoped list address is…) for about $100. USD. Spend a couple days ginning up a fake paypal or ebay or ? login website, send out a million emails (which is essentially free) with faked From: addresses marked up to look legit, and wait for the dwarwinian 2-3% that will click and give up their login info and credit card. You do the math. Gaining 2-3,000 legit logins to financial sites and you are good to harvest the rewards if you do it low and slow.

    It’s a low-risk, high-payout crime. And as long as they’re committing fraud and theft on the network, I’ve got guaranteed employment preventing, detecting, tracking them down, and collecting the evidence. I guess it’s a symbiotic relationship, right?

  3. SaintJude6 says:

    Bryan Boyle,
    I received that fake IRS call as well. Luckily I knew that the IRS doesn’t just phone you up out of the blue, sounding like they are calling from New Delhi. They even did the bit about “someone from local law enforcement will be calling you back in 30 minutes”. I think I liked it better when I just kept the ringer on the house phone turned off.

  4. Elizabeth D says:

    I get those calls all the time. I reply the same way every time: “You may not have known when you accepted this job that it was a criminal operation, but you surely DO KNOW NOW, and I urge you that this is wrong and you should leave this job and notify the police. It’s hard to find work but you need to get honest work.” Usually they hang up before I can say this much. The last person tried to argue that it was legit, and I made it clear that I know he is not from Microsoft and I described how the scam works (I have researched it, not been scammed myself) so he would realize I do know what they are up to. I gave him a pretty good browbeating to quit his job and stop the fraud before he hung up.

  5. Ben Yanke says:

    I will confess it is enjoyable to waste the scammer’s time. When I am able, I try to do so. Last time I spent half an hour doing so with one guy.

    Is it bad that I found it incredibly satisfying to hear the scammer trying to stay calm as I said things like “Please go to your windows computer.” “What was that? Yeah, I’m near the window! What now!”

    At one point, I had the scumbag repeat me the same 6 character command about 12 times, very very slowly…

    At least they’re wasting their time with me instead of scamming innocent people.

  6. alnleash says:

    Last year I received the call from a woman with an Indian accent from the “IRS” threatening litigation if I didn’t fix things immediately. I asked her very calmly and nicely if she believed in God. She didn’t answer, which allowed me to continue to say that what she is doing is sinful and not right in the eyes of God. Still no response and so I added that I was sure that God was not happy with the fact that she was trying to take advantage of innocent people. Silence. But she was still there for another few seconds as I paused long enough for her to answer. Then came the click; she hung up without a word. I never received another call from the “IRS” again. I suppose this may also work with other scammers.

  7. Peter in Canberra says:

    Is it possible it was an Indian in New York?

  8. un-ionized says:

    Peter in C, That’s more likely than not.

  9. The Masked Chicken says:

    Since I refuse to pay the health care, “tax,” when I got this scam call, there was a finite possibility that it could have been legit, except that, while they had the right address, they had the wrong occupant (person lived here, probably, years ago).

    Father, could you be more specific with regards to your server needs?

    The Chicken

  10. cda_sister says:

    Oh my….I’m surprised to see so many of you getting the IRS call. I, too, got this call, albeit in a round about way. Actually, the original call went to my grandson’s cell phone. He missed the actual call but they left an intense message informing me of a lawsuit that had been filed against me and a warrant issued and if I didn’t respond by calling back to this particular number legal action would proceed…blah…blah…blah. Bless his heart, he called me from college all in a panic. But….he had the message saved and sent it to me. I told him not to worry and to remember NEVER EVER respond to any call like this as it was most assuredly a scam. I listened several times and the person did not sound well educated at all. Then I hit the internet to do some research and that’s when I found that this same scam has been going on for several years. I decided to call the number just to see how the phone was answered and to see where the number was located. It was Florida. The IRS does have investigative department but not under the name used by the phone answerer. I still have the message just in case I should get the call again so I can turn it over to the FBI. As someone else said, if you really have an issue with the IRS, you will not receive a phone call but instead a certified, return receipt requested, letter.

  11. paladin says:


    Have you heard of “health sharing ministries”? (Samaritan Ministries is one of the main examples.) They’re much cheaper than Obamacare or any other health insurance of which I’m aware, they run like insurance was originally designed to run (look them up for details), and they’re explicitly exempted from Obamacare’s “tax”…

  12. marnie says:

    I’ve had both fraud calls. I got the one from India about my Microsoft computer needing repair. Knowing it was a scam, I told him I didn’t have a computer. He asked what I DID have. I told him I had a microwave and a toaster. He hung up. The one from the IRS asked for my social security number. I told him if he was really from the IRS he already had all of my information. He hung up also.

  13. Sonshine135 says:

    These seem to be on the rise. I receive any number of strange calls asking about vehicle warranties and with people calling out mine and my wife’s name on the answering machine. It is a bit disconcerting to say the least. I rarely answer my home phone. They are even starting to hit my cell phone though too.

  14. Grateful to be Catholic says:

    Summer is coming and that’s the season for college kids representing Greenpeace and PIRG to ring my doorbell and patrol the sidewalks in the business district. I try to engage them to find out what they are scamming. It is a scam because their claims are generally not well-supported by facts or there are other conclusions that could be drawn. I try to ask enough curious questions to introduce the possibility that there is more to it than the kid has been told. Invariably they start to get nervous and break off. I tell them that if they ever think about our conversation again, to remember who didn’t want to continue it. At least while they are talking to me, they are not collecting money from my neighbors, who would definitely give them something.

    Once two kids came to the door saying they were collecting to send their choir to sing in St. Peter’s. Y’know, they didn’t look like choirboys. After a couple of friendly questions one of them called me something that rhymed with witch. I called the police who responded promptly and picked them up down the street. The police said they had had several complaints and were glad to catch them. So don’t believe everything you hear. What a world.

  15. Michael_Thoma says:

    I used to work at a private business where 50% of the incoming calls were these scam calls. I got so frustrated that I filled multiple FCC, FTC, AG and BBB forms to alleviate the scourge. Even that didn’t work. During down time, I started baiting them giving the scammers my number, which happened to be the direct line to the local FBI Regional Office.

  16. akp1 says:

    I just tell them we do not use Windows computers, only Apple. They can’t believe it, ‘Are you sure?’ ‘couldn’t there be a random old one one that we are picking up on?”! Not as quick off the mark as the person who tells them they don’t have a computer though! So simple and effective! The microsoft scam call seems to be a regular favourite.

  17. JustaSinner says:

    Tell them you’re going to have their Auntie for lunch, with cheese and grilled onions. Works every time. Mmmm, medium rare steak burger….yum!

  18. Charles E Flynn says:

    When my father suspected that he had received an unwanted call, he used one of the following responses:

    Fenway Park ticket office

    Strategic Air Command

  19. NBW says:

    The life of the Amish becomes more and more appealing to me. No computers, no phones.

  20. I often tell people that after I retire from a career in IT, I am going to become an Amish farmer.

  21. joan ellen says:

    Why is it so tempting to think…’a rose is a rose’ & ‘a hack is a hack’ by whatever name it is called. I do like to live like the Amish, in some ways more Amish than even they are. At the same time trying to reduce my relationship with & dependency on many things tech. However, in matters of faith, I still prefer ‘continuous Apostolic Succession, 7 Sacraments, & thousands of Saints’ which the Amish do not have for help in their Salvation. So, while the Amish lifestyle is, actually very Catholic in spirit, the doctrine & dogma while good…& even catholic…it does not contain the fullness of faith.

  22. HeatherPA says:

    We get the payday loan scam callers or the “you have a returned check to pay” scammers. Haven’t had the pleasure of the computer or IRS scam yet. Apparently, we have taken out thousands in payday loans and never paid any of it back, so we are on the brink of arrest. Or we have written checks that were fraudulent.
    They use virtual numbers that appear to be coming from nearby towns (which is laughable in rural PA) but speak with such thick accents (another thing that is a glaring tipoff in rural PA) that it’s hard to even understand.
    These people have info they hacked into/stole or bought from application companies because they have a little info about us, like where we have had bank accounts in the past and old addresses. We have had info stolen from the VA, so…
    Very annoying and we have reported them to every agency possible, but they take a month or so off and start all over. The messages they leave are ridiculous.

  23. Mr. Graves says:

    Elizabeth D, as a Catholic I’m proud of your principled approach, but as someone whose time has been wasted fending off scammers, hats off to Ben Yanke. Why didn’t I think of that?

  24. boxerpaws63 says:

    They call and claim you have a virus or problem. It’s possible but how on earth would they know in the first place? Love the one from “Microsoft” Nobody from Microsoft is going to call to help you even if they actually knew you had a problem.

  25. Cafea Fruor says:

    I used to get 100+ calls per day at work from the same scammer, which was doubly infuriating because I couldn’t ignore the calls — I was a receptionist, and any unanswered call from a long distance number would switch the phone over to the “Attendant Busy” setting, which meant ALL calls would automatically go to voicemail. So I’d have to pick it up every time, even if only for long enough to hang up again right away, or I’d have to switch the phone over to the correct setting. Either way, 100+ interruptions every day was absolutely maddening. The additional problem was that they started to call from a gazillion random phone numbers (there’s software that can block your real number), so I couldn’t just have our IT department have the phone company block the number. ARGH! After many reminders to them that their repeated solicitation was illegal harassment of a non-profit organization, I finally reported them to the FCC and registered in my complaint every single caller ID number I had from them. Never heard from them again. Apparently, it was some scam running out of Mauritania. Makes me wonder sometimes if anything good actually happens in Mauritania and Nigeria (where so many of these scams originate), or if everyone there is just a scammer. Ugh.

  26. bookworm says:

    I have a private direct phone number at my workplace, but very rarely do I actually get work-related calls on it, because those normally come to our main office number and are forwarded by the office manager/receptionist. About 99 percent of the calls I get on this phone consist of the following: 1) the “vehicle warranty” offer for a vehicle that went to the junkyard years ago, 2) an offer of a free Carribbean cruise, 3) calls from people looking for some name I don’t know from Adam to notify them of a lawsuit or unpaid bill, 4) calls from people trying to reach the state Department of Revenue to pay back taxes (my number is similar to theirs but a couple of digits are reversed). I ignore the first three types of calls but keep the real Dept. of Revenue number handy for the callers in the last category.

  27. oklip955 says:

    Yah, that guy keeps calling me many times a day. I’ve left the phone off the hook because of him. I have hardware problems so I told him my computer is going to the shop. Which it is soon. I am tired of this guy.

Comments are closed.