No, Grandma, that's not Microsoft calling to warn you about a virus on your PC.
The company is working with the AARP to raise awareness of a scam that's forecast to cost 3.3 million Americans more than $1.5 billion this year alone. The scam, in which fraudsters impersonate Microsoft technical support staff over the telephone in an effort to bilk money from their victims, is primarily aimed at older people who may not be tech savvy enough to know whether or not it's Microsoft on the other end of the line.
Odds are, it's not. As Microsoft explained in a blog post, the company does not make unsolicited technical support telephone calls to Windows users. (The same goes for its PC hardware partners like HP and Lenovo.) As part of the company's efforts to push back against this scam, it's hosting some 300 AARP members at its Redmond, Wash., headquarters to get them up to speed on the scam.
Microsoft says it's received more than 175,000 complaints about the scam since May 2014. Responding to the growing complaints, the company in December 2014 filed a federal lawsuit against a California company that allegedly conducted scam telephone calls.
While the average Motherboard reader may not be the target for these fraudsters, the fact that they're on track to bilk more than $1.5 billion out of honest people's pockets should be enough to upset any right-thinking netizen. Besides, Microsoft's involvement can only help cut down on long conversations with Grandma on why she shouldn't take unsolicited tech support advice over the phone.