"Nice laptop you got here. Be a shame if something... happened to it."
Some time this morning, some elderly Indian lady called my house (on my house phone) at about 10:00-10:30. She said she was from some PC company and that they'd received error messages from my computer here at home. I asked her how they got my home phone through these so-called error messages and she said, I shit you not, "Mind your own business" then terminated the connection.
Then I drifted on to other weirdness visited on me such as my sons being charged with dogsitting three cathartic canines, an interrupted lunch so one son could spell another, a letter from the MA DOR informing me because I didn't get RomneyCare that I now owe them $540 (don't forget, they levied both my bank accounts over two years ago) and other weird shit that came in the mail. Then I had my other son over, I took him to his girlfriend's house and then the second call came.
This time it was an Indian guy giving me the same pitch the nasty old lady had initiated and rudely terminated earlier today, telling me they've received many error messages from my laptop. When I asked him how they or Microsoft could get my home phone number when I'd never given it to either them or Microsoft (I registered my Windows OS when I first bought my laptop in 2011, many months before I got my home phone number through Verizon ), he couldn't really give me a straight answer but it strongly suggested that Microsoft and his company knew a great deal more about me than they perhaps have a right to know.
He eventually put me on the line with a technician who, to put it mildly, was a real piece of work. Another Indian guy, this one refused to entertain my questions kindly and had no compunctions about insulting me in a wide variety of ways for asking the most reasonable of questions. Among them: How did Microsoft get a phone # I didn't have prior to registering my software? And why I should construe as normal some company allegedly based in Arizona, using snotty Indians, calling me not once but twice offering to fix my error message problems for free? What are you selling?
Nothing he said, after haranguing me for the umpteenth time that I talk too much and that I sounded as if I was the technician (knowing fully well our conversation was being recorded). To say the least, this guy's interpersonal skills were somewhere between a honey badger and a Republican. He also seemed to take umbrage at the suggestion that they could be a bunch of scam artists and why should I let them have access to my laptop by downloading some other company's software?
Now, I did indeed download the software that enabled them to do this because they talked me through the process that had me open up a window that showed how many error messages and warnings that had popped up on my laptop just in the last several days (when they took control of my laptop, they said they found over 5000 such notices going back to just March). That much was real and they couldn't've put that information there. So, I did what they said, I strung them along figuring, if this wasn't legit I could always terminate the wifi connection and delete their software.
So, after a few more minutes, my cursor began moving by itself, they opened up another window showing me a long list of programs such as Adobe Flash that were labelled as corrupted, compromised or disabled. I only went as far as I did because I figured they were telling me about issues I deal with on a daily basis (scripts not running or Shockwave not working, etc.). Then he finally got to the bottom line.
He said when I'd registered my software with Microsoft for free back in the summer of 2011, it was only for a year then it expired. He asked me if my laptop's speed started getting slower after a year and I admitted it had. Then he told me that if I wanted them to fix my laptop, I'd have to first pay Microsoft's software division $175 for the next year OR a one-time lifetime fee (good only for the life of this strange company of Indians) of $275.
With no guarantee that, once they got receipt of the money, they would honor their promises. The technician told me if I did not renew my warranty soon, my laptop will crash and "you will be the loser." I wondered at the time and asked him why he was working so hard on behalf for the Microsoft Corporation and busting a nut to put $175 in Bill Gates' pocket if his company, as he intimated, wouldn't profit by so much as a penny. It had all the earmarks of a protection racket: "Nice laptop you got here. Be a shame if something... happened to it."
But even after being told I was not in a position to part with $175, with no guarantee of a return of promised services, that I've been out of work for years, just got some bad news in the mail that I owe my state government almost $600 in back taxes and have to worry about paying my bills, he still would not take no for an answer. Plus, I told him, renewing a warranty for $175 seems awfully excessive even for Microsoft. Either way you cut it, it's a slimy protection racket. Plus these assholes had control over my laptop.
I'd finally had it up to here with this prick and his nasty-ass attitude and told him to never call my house again. I then terminated the wifi connection, then looked at my list of programs and discovered to my horror that it never showed up, meaning I couldn't uninstall it. I kept thinking over and over again of him telling me that he was looking at the entire contents of my hard drive (I don't do porn or go to jihadist websites, but still.). Then when I discovered I couldn't find the software I'd downloaded so I could uninstall it, I really began to freak out. That means they can access my computer and help themselves to my banking information whenever they want, including my passwords.
So, to recap, they call me this morning, basically tell me to go fuck myself when I naturally ask how they got my number, they call me back, essentially saying I'm crazy for asking why I should trust them, was repeatedly told I talked too much and then tried to extort $275 out of me which I was then expected to just shell out with no questions asked and no guarantee they'd clean my hard drive of this malware.
I don't know who the fuck these people were because their thick Indian accents prevented me from making out the name of their "company" but it struck me as highly suspicious that any company would call me or anyone out of the blue offering to fix their computer issues. They knew a lot more about me than they had a right to, starting with just my name, address, home phone number and how many computers we use at home. I'd like to know if anyone can tell me how to uninstall this software from my hard drive (I can't find it on the D drive, either. The company that makes it is shown above) and if they've ever received such a phone call from anyone. This doesn't pass the smell test in any way, shape or form. And with the financial storm clouds that are gathering over our heads, we so do not need a bunch of nasty Indians having ready access to my computer at any time.