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by Ray DeCosta

Q. A man claiming to be from Microsoft called me and said they noticed that my computer was causing problems on the Internet. He stated it had been invaded by malware and offered to fix it for me but I declined. Did I do the right thing?

A. Yes, indeed. You ran into one of the scams that are making the rounds these days. First of all, do you really think that even Microsoft has the resources to go looking for "problem computers" on the Internet? Or to look up your phone number if they should somehow find one? Any website you visit can only determine the general area in which your Internet Service Provider does business and nothing more specific is available without a subpoena.

If you had continued with the conversation, they would have asked you to check your Event Viewer as "proof" of your malware infection. In going to Event Viewer you would see numerous errors which are commonplace and usually mean nothing. However, you would have been pressured into allowing "Microsoft" (for a fee, of course) "fix" your horribly error-prone computer. They won't actually fix anything and more likely you will receive some form of malware in the bargain.

You can check this out for yourself by going to Control Panel -- Administrative Tools -- Event Viewer -- System. You will see a whole string of Error listings. Right-click on any one, then Properties to view the actual message which is generally routine and of no cause for concern.

Published: Courier 12/4/11 - Page 5C