Microsoft plans to end support for Windows XP and Office 2003 on Tuesday.
If you use the Windows XP operating system on your computer, it will still work on Wednesday, but you should know a few things.
Microsoft will no longer provide security updates on these systems, leaving them vulnerable to hackers, viruses, and other security risks. There is widespread expectation of a surge in hacker attempts to exploit vulnerabilities in unsupported versions of Windows and Office immediately following its retirement. BBB is advising consumers to be on the lookout for scammers targeting XP operating system and Office 2003 users.
Cybercriminals may claim to represent Windows Helpdesk, Windows Service Center, Microsoft Tech Support, Microsoft Support, Windows Technical Department Support Group, or Microsoft Research and Development Team (Microsoft R&D Team). However, BBB reminds consumers that Microsoft's Online Safety and Security Center states neither Microsoft nor its partners make unsolicited phone calls. Anti-malware updates for Microsoft Security Essentials will continue for a while, although you'll no longer be able to download it on XP if you have not already done so. Keep in mind Microsoft Security Essentials will not be very effective without access to regular security updates.
Once scammers have access to the computer, they can install malicious software, steal personal information, take control of the computer remotely or direct consumers to fraudulent websites where they are asked to enter their credit card or other personal and financial information.
While the vast majority of PCs have been upgraded to newer operating systems, as many as 30 percent of computers still rely on XP.
BBB advises consumers to follow these tips to protect themselves from scammers attempting to get access to their computer:
Consider upgrading your PC to Windows 7 or Windows 8.1, or it may be time to buy a new computer. Keep in mind that very few older computers will be able to run Windows 8.1, which is the latest version of Windows. It is recommended that you go to www.microsoft.com to see if your PC meets the requirements for Microsoft 8.1, then follow the steps to upgrade your PC. Data migration instructions are also available on the site.
Go through your service provider directly. If you are concerned your computer may be exposed to viruses or other security threats, contact your service provider directly. Some providers offer free tools that can help detect and remove viruses.
Install virus detection. To help protect your computer from viruses make sure you have virus detection software installed on your computer. This software can also help identify if a virus appears on your computer.
Don't trust cold calls. Never give out personal information, over the phone, to someone you don't know. If the caller claims there is a security threat to your computer, hang up and call your computer company directly.
Work with a reputable computer repair company. Go to bbb.org to find a BBB Accredited Business you can trust.
For more consumer tips you can trust, go to bbb.org. To report fraudulent activity or unscrupulous business practices, please call the BBB Hotline: 903-581-8373.