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Security & privacy

Have a Windows PC? Don’t fall for this bogus Windows Defender charge

Online scams come in all forms, including phony links, apps, files, phone numbers and websites. Scammers reach out to victims via phone, email and text message. It’s not always easy to spot a scam, but there are signs you can look out for.

Scammers sometimes pose as representatives from legitimate companies. It could be an internet service provider, an insurance company, a software developer — you name it. Tap or click here to read about a scam call from a supposed mobile provider that cost the victim thousands of dollars.

We received a message from one of Kim’s listeners, who a scammer targeted. Luckily, her suspicions prevented her from falling victim. Read on for the full story.

Remember, Windows Defender is free

Gina wrote in about a scam she almost fell for involving Windows Defender. She got an email stating that she will be charged for Windows Defender, and it included a phone number. Gina called Microsoft and confirmed that the email was fake. The following is an excerpt from her message to Kim:

“I didn’t click on anything in this message, nor did I call the number listed on there. Instead, I looked up Microsoft phone number and talked with them about it.
Sure enough — it’s a scam that has been going on for a while. First started out as $299.00 then it’s climbed to $399.00.”

RELATED. 5 tips to beef up your smartphone security

Microsoft assured Gina that Windows Defender is free and that users will never be charged a fee. The tech giant told her to watch out for similar scams, which may come from Gmail or Yahoo accounts. While Microsoft does what it can to block those addresses, scammers create more.

They also told Gina to check her bank account to make sure her credit card wasn’t compromised.

“I knew Windows Defender wasn’t something we are charged for but the charge looking so real is what made me question it all,” Gina concluded. “I am really concerned that people who aren’t aware that this is a scam will be duped.”

How to avoid similar attempts

You can stay safe with some vigilance and good practices. Here are some tips:

  • If you receive any sort of message from a company informing you of an issue with your account, contact the company directly. You can find contact information on the official website.
  • Login to your account to check for any suspicious activity.
  • Never give your credentials over the phone to unsolicited callers. Legitimate companies will not request this information over the phone or through email or text.
  • If a caller makes you feel pressured or rushed, hang up the phone.
  • Look out for spelling and grammar mistakes in texts and emails; these are a sure sign that it’s a scam.
  • Report suspected scams to the companies they are masquerading as. You an also send a report to the Federal Trade Commission.

One more thing. Many scammers use malicious links or downloads to infect your system with malware. That’s why it’s critical to have antivirus software you can trust on all of your devices. We recommend our sponsor, TotalAV.

With TotalAV, you get so much more than antivirus protection. It’s the full package: A security suite that protects your computer and smartphone from today’s threats.

Right now, get an annual plan with TotalAV for only $19 at That’s over 85% off the regular price, just for my readers and listeners!

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