Phone scammers pretending to call from the Microsoft Corporation have become more aggressive and rude and have even tried intimidating people to make them buy into their deception, according to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.
Colleen Dolhanty, who lives in Cape Breton, said she's received about 100 phone calls in the last year from people claiming to be from Microsoft. She said the scammers used scare tactics to try to trick her into giving them control of her computer by inventing problems.
She believes if she'd given them that control, they would have installed malicious software as they pretend to fix the issue.
Dolhanty said she recently got a call with a scammer who took a different approach.
"They said my computer was spewing out pornographic material, that I could be charged," she said.
"I knew it was a scam."
Daniel Williams, with the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, said if you argue with the scammers and hang up, they take another approach.
"They will make a game of it. We've had cases where — and we have no reason to doubt it — that consumers have had in excess of 400 prank phone calls over the course of three weeks," he said.
Williams said the computer anti-virus scam is still the main one making the rounds.
"For the last going on six years now, they have been making up roughly on any given day about 80 per cent of the calls that we are receiving," he said.
"We know that these outfits are calling just about every single listed phone number across Canada including everybody here at this office."
Bell Aliant said it can't control who places a call and it can only encourage customers to protect their information.
Customers can automatically forward specific numbers to voice mail, but that doesn't block calls from unknown or unfamiliar numbers.
Williams suggests when you get a call, say, 'No thank you, I'm getting rid of my computer' and gently hang up the phone. He wants people to report the call to the authorities and tell their friends as well, because the only way to end the scam is to make people aware of it.