Tech+ Mailbag: Scammed by fake Microsoft techs, here’s how to clean up a PC before it’s really too late
Tech+: Ugh. Not another one! People, Microsoft is never going to personally contact you, unless you contacted them first. This is definitely a scam!
Since you did give them access Darlene, there is always a chance that something nasty got installed on your PC. So, let me skip a lecture and instead be more constructive.
If you are in a complete frenzy, take your computer straight to a local Microsoft store where on-site tech staff will do a quick look see for free (but make an appointment first) to make sure the computer is okay. Here’s a list of local Microsoft stores: microsoft. com/en-us/store/ locations/ find-a-store
Another alternative is to call an antivirus company and see if they can troubleshoot your issue to make sure there is no lingering malware and also to get the security software operating again.
Of course, there are a plethora of hired computer help that you can pay, too, including Best Buy’s Geek Squad, GroovyTek and others.
If you feel confident enough to move forward on your own, turn your computer on but boot it up in “Safe Mode,” which limits what programs run on your PC. Steps in how to do this are available on Microsoft’s site here: dpo.st/safemode
Now back up all your important files (photos, documents, email, etc.) you haven’t backed up already. And then proceed with cleaning up your computer by doing tasks like Disk Cleanup (type “Disk Cleanup” in the Windows search bar). Attempt to run existing anti-malware or antivirus software already installed or try to get your antivirus software working.
If that gets you nowhere, you’ll need to download some anti-malware software. Microsoft offers a few choices to clean up baddies infecting a computer.
•The Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool (at dpo.st/antimalware) finds and removes threats in Windows versions as early as Windows 7. The link offers detailed instructions on how to use the tool. •If you’re still suspicious after running the Windows Malicious tool, then try the Microsoft Safety Scanner, at dpo.st/safetyscanner. Run it on-demand to scan your PC. Microsoft says this works with existing antivirus software.
•Microsoft also offers free antivirus software, which is built into Windows 10. Windows Defender, at microsoft.com/en-us/windows/windows-defender, adds virus protection, spyware and malware removal and real-time protection.
Also, a few more checks to do on your computer:
•If opening your internet browser shows a strange page (a bad sign!), then check the browser’s settings to see what website opens at startup. Lifewire.com offers the how-to steps to change start pages for several browsers at lifewire.com/ set-homepage-3483132.
•Check to see if any unfamiliar extensions or add-ons are now part of your internet browser. For example, in Google Chrome, go to “Settings,” then “More Tools” and then “Extensions.” Disable or delete the ones that are likely malware.
•While System Restore can rewind a computer back to an earlier period, this could also store malware. So delete older system restore points. Go to the Windows search bar and type “System restore” and follow directions.
If you’re still freaked out, you could wipe your computer and reinstall Windows. Don’t forget to back up files! Here are instructions to do that: support. microsoft.com/ en-ie/help/ 4000735/windows10-reinstall