Mr. Modem: Give scammers the silent treatment

I received a call in which the caller said he was from Microsoft and that my computer was being hacked. It sounded suspicious so I asked him for a telephone number that I could call back to verify the call and he would not give it to me. He eventually hung up on me. Is there anything I should do now? My computer seems to be working fine.

How this type of situation is handled is very simple: You hang up the phone. That’s it. Over. Done. Fini. Case closed. Talk to the hand.

Microsoft is never going to call you, period. Don’t waste your time and energy asking for a phone number to call back. Why? What if the caller gave you a number (which could have very easily happened)? Then what would you have done?

I’m guessing you would have called back and they would have answered the phone, “Microsoft Hotline Support. How can I help you?” Reassured, you might have provided any information requested, including remote access to your computer. Don’t go there.

I’m glad you weren’t suckered into this scam, but with all due respect, you allowed it to go much too far. The fact that the caller elected to hang up on you, rather than the other way around, means that you stayed too long at the dance.

By being as persistent as you were, you enabled the scam to continue and they almost had you. This means there’s a good chance that your phone number will be sold to other scammers because they managed to keep you on the line and almost reeled you in — making you what is known in scam vernacular as a “live one.”

It bears repeating: The proper way to handle calls like this is with silence. Do not say a word. Simply hang up the phone. Click. Bye-bye.

It serves no purpose to engage callers or try to test them in some manner. And for heaven’s sake, don’t ask for a phone number to call them back. You were very lucky with this call.

I have two computers. One is a Windows 7 system that I use to get on the Internet, visit websites, etc. The second computer is Windows XP that I use only off-line for bookkeeping, printing checks, backing up documents, etc. Do I need a router for either of these two machines?

A router is a device that your modem plugs into that allows you to have Wi-Fi in your home. If you want a wireless signal available for your Windows XP system, or any other devices such as a tablet, you will need a router. But since your XP computer is not used online, it will not require one.

Mr. Modem publishes “Ask Mr. Modem!” each week, featuring PC tips, tricks and plain-English answers to your questions by e-mail. For more information, visit

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