Tech+ Mail­bag: Scammed by fake Mi­crosoft techs, here’s how to clean up a PC be­fore it’s re­ally too late

The Denver Post - - TECH KNOW - By Ta­mara Chuang Q : I got a call from Mi­crosoft tech (or what I thought it was). … The techs even gave me their em­ployee num­ber and names. We ran some “win­dows r” and checked some things, say­ing there were 19,000 er­rors, most of them were Mi­crosoft f il

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:

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 (at­ti­mal­ware) 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, at­tyscan­ner. 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 mi­­dows/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. of­fers the how-to steps to change start pages for sev­eral browsers at 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. mi­ en-ie/help/ 4000735/win­dows10-re­in­stall

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