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  1.    28 Dec 2016 #1

    Activation Scams


    I'm going to relate a very lengthy description of a bizarre incident involving a Windows activation scam involving a pop-up support phone number.

    Anyone who's had to reinstall a retail version of Windows Ten is familiar with what a nightmare this can be - not the re-installation but trying to activate it. Mine was a retail purchase version of Windows 10 Home. When I followed the activation instructions, Microsoft rejected my product key. This was the third time I've had to reinstall the O.S. and I already had a replacement product key, Product I.D. and activation code. None of these were now any good. So when a pop-up appeared with a support number appeared, I called and got the usual heavily accented voice that I could barely understand and who got mad whenever I asked him to repeat something. Long story short, it was 7:30 AM central time and this guy asked me some questions, then told me the activation was "good" BUT, the people who had, so to speak, throw the switch and make it work were not in the office yet and I should call back in a half hour, which I did. This sounded very suspicious, and it WAS.

    When I called back another very heavily accented voice answered and I told him why I was calling. He then asked what number I called (which I no longer have) and he replied that was not a Microsoft's support number, The number I was now connected to was 888-257-4436. He said I was the victim of a pop-up scam and he wanted me to give permission to do a remote connection. At this point, I figured the damage was already done, so I consented and I was shown a huge list of Trojan virus files installed on my brand new build. Thsi guy was pleasant and patient with me, but told me I'd have to pay a $199.00 tech service fee and he'd remove the virsus. I was also told this was a "life-time" support fee and that I could call as many times as I needed. I forgot to ask what "lifetime" meant but I did try to vet who he was, a Microsoft support contractor named Vector Solutionz. AS pleasant as he was, he did not sound very professional like the typical corporate employee and I couldn't help but think I was being scammed yet again. However, when I checked I found that Windows was activated. This guy now spent nearly an hour cleaning up my machine and I could see everything he was doing, including installing Team Viewer, leaving me a new product key and business his contact info.Would a scammer do that? I thought not.

    Now, if you Google 888-257-4436 you will find dozens of entries claiming this as a scam number. I called it back again and got the same guy and I cannot explain this at all. It is now a week later, and my credit cards and my I.D.were not stolen, bank accounts emptied nor are there any viruses on my computer so I can only conclude that the second guy I talked with was legit, despite his lack of professionalism . . . . he sure as hell knew what he was doing.

    Microsoft.probably hires dozens of these contractors and no doubt they are not all equally well trained. Or maybe the guy I talked with had no customer relations training at all, who knows? My experience reveals just what a thorny path Microsoft forces us to walk down to protect THEIR PRODUCT while we get no protection at all.
      My ComputerSystem Spec
  2.    28 Dec 2016 #2
    Join Date : Jul 2015
    Posts : 9,146
    Windows 10 Pro

    @DAVEY JONES,

    We can tell you if your activation appears to be legitimate now or if you got scammed again. Also - the tech installed Team Viewer for you? Do you know that is? Microsoft would never install Team Viewer on your computer. The phone number you gave is NOT MICROSOFT and nobody should be calling it! especially for Windows activation!

    Here is Microsoft's support phone numbers:
    https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/...-phone-numbers

    Anyway, if you right click on the start icon, select Command Prompt (Admin), and run the following command:

    slmgr /dlv

    Please post the result here.

    Then run Showkey Plus from this forum:
    ShowKeyPlus

    Click on the product keys to blank them out, and post the result here. With that info we can tell you with near certainty if your activation is legitimate or not. Here are my results:

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Capture.JPG 
Views:	6 
Size:	74.8 KB 
ID:	115041

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Capture1.JPG 
Views:	117 
Size:	32.0 KB 
ID:	115042
      My ComputerSystem Spec
  3.    28 Dec 2016 #3

    .. in addition, Retail comes with free MS support - OEM support are the ones that demand out-of-warranty payment - or as in this case scammers...

    I won't be surprised if some sort of ransomware is already installed and ready to be activated at any time... hope to be proved wrong...

    BTW use the ADT - it will give more useful info.
      My ComputerSystem Spec
  4.    29 Dec 2016 #4
    Join Date : Jul 2014
    Serbia
    Posts : 10,178
    W10 Insider + Linux

    "Anyone who's had to reinstall a retail version of Windows Ten is familiar with what a nightmare this can be - not the re-installation but trying to activate it."
    I haven't had that problem ever. Once installed on a particular computer (motherboard counts only), all clean re-installations went thru without entering any keys because machine was already registered and activate with MS. I'm on third MB since W10 started too and activation was accepted.
    So if you have to reinstall, do not enter registration and use your MS/Hotmail account.
    As for the rest, you were unlucky to run into bad scam, there's tons of it and have to be very careful unless you initiate contact with legitimate MS contact. It's difficult enough getting help from legit MS help, let alone that they initiate it.
      My ComputersSystem Spec
  5.    29 Dec 2016 #5
    Join Date : Dec 2013
    Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada
    Posts : 10,225
    Windows 10 IoT

    I've done numerous clean installs of Windows 8, 8.1 and 10 with Retail keys. They were MSDN keys, but they are listed as Retail Keys. Not one activation issue. I'm very careful to make sure I track what keys I use on what PC and only ever use that key on that PC. I've done numerous installs on the same PC with the same key with no activation issues. Since the release of the Anniversary Update or Windows 10, my Product Code Activations have been converted to Digital Licenses. No need to ever enter a key now, other than to override the auto detection of my OEM embedded keys.
      My ComputerSystem Spec
  6.    29 Dec 2016 #6
    Join Date : Jul 2015
    Posts : 9,146
    Windows 10 Pro

    Also, as I explained in @DAVEY JONES other thread - Microsoft will allow the same product key to be used on different computers (motherboards). Once you hit a relatively low threshold, that product key will get blocked from automatic internet activation and Windows will prompt you to call Microsoft. You call Microsoft and the computer voice will ask you to enter you Installation ID - not your product key. Microsoft will never ask you for your product key over the phone or via chat, they will ask for the Installation ID. Then the computer voice asks you how many computers you have installed that copy of software on and you answer ONE and they give you the activation code to activate that particular Installation ID which is unique to that version of Windows installed on that particular computer.

    I have a family three pack retail license for Windows that has only 1 product key that has been moved to at least a dozen different computers over the years and Microsoft still activates it over the phone with just the computer voice activation system.
      My ComputerSystem Spec
  7.    29 Dec 2016 #7
    Join Date : Dec 2013
    Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada
    Posts : 10,225
    Windows 10 IoT

    Quote Originally Posted by NavyLCDR View Post
    Also, as I explained in @DAVEY JONES other thread - Microsoft will allow the same product key to be used on different computers (motherboards). Once you hit a relatively low threshold, that product key will get blocked from automatic internet activation and Windows will prompt you to call Microsoft. You call Microsoft and the computer voice will ask you to enter you Installation ID - not your product key. Microsoft will never ask you for your product key over the phone or via chat, they will ask for the Installation ID. Then the computer voice asks you how many computers you have installed that copy of software on and you answer ONE and they give you the activation code to activate that particular Installation ID which is unique to that version of Windows installed on that particular computer.

    I have a family three pack retail license for Windows that has only 1 product key that has been moved to at least a dozen different computers over the years and Microsoft still activates it over the phone with just the computer voice activation system.
    I've had to do that when doing a OEM-COA activation. Takes a little of your time, but pretty easy and painless really. I did mine all through voice recognition. I read in my code and computer voice read back that authorization code. Then Windows activates. Done deal.
      My ComputerSystem Spec
  8.    29 Dec 2016 #8

    I can only wish those were my experiences with windows, why they are not I haven't the time or inclination to delve into. My romancing the stone is about over. Ever since W7 its been more or less a nightmare and a killer of productivity. XP was the last o.s. I thought I knew something about. I was probably delusional.

    Is this the sort of thing an ordinary consumer is expected to know how to navigate his way around? I know folks who just toss $600 machines in the trash because they've no idea what to do as the repair people rip them off for more than they're worth. "Why pay $300 repair when $400 - $600 will buy a new one?" That's their reasoning. I'm retired, so I can't be so extravagant.

    I got my first computer in 1983, a Radio Shack TRS-80. You guys who live with this stuff every day probably don't even notice what this has morphed into compared to the early days when "computing" was fun. Not anymore, its an ordeal to be survived, not enjoyed. Particularly now that we're a computerized civilization where use is no longer optional. And Windows has become a bloated obesity meant to please everyone and succeeds in pleasing no one. That, my friends, is the way a non-techie views the present situation.
      My ComputerSystem Spec
  9.    30 Dec 2016 #9
    Join Date : Jul 2014
    Serbia
    Posts : 10,178
    W10 Insider + Linux

    It's still fun for me although I don't have to use soldering iron as much as with my first experience with Heathkit computer, Pong, ZX81, Atari etc. I modify and overclock everything in sight. I never threw away any computer or parts thereof unless hopelessly broken, just keep on upgrading and older parts passing down to less fortunate. I probably have at least few screws still used from my 1995 computer.
      My ComputersSystem Spec
  10.    30 Dec 2016 #10

    Quote Originally Posted by CountMike View Post
    It's still fun for me although I don't have to use soldering iron as much as with my first experience with Heathkit computer, Pong, ZX81, Atari etc. I modify and overclock everything in sight. I never threw away any computer or parts thereof unless hopelessly broken, just keep on upgrading and older parts passing down to less fortunate. I probably have at least few screws still used from my 1995 computer.
    A true devotee. If it weren't for generous people like you and the others, I wouldn't even be here now. Besides, its not the hardware I have problems with, I've built at least a dozen machines and only ruined my first Intel socket this year (dropped the processor on it), its the O.S.
      My ComputerSystem Spec

 
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