Phone call saying services are stopped on your computer? It’s a scam.

“Hello? My name is Max and I’m calling from CSA. We got a report saying that services are stopped on your computer.”

I hung up, for lack of energy to fight with “Max,” or even to try to convince him my name is Suchita. But if that phone call sounds familiar, feel free to hang up on Max, or whatever he says his name is. It’s a scam. If you want to know why, read on.

In days of yore, Windows computers had dozens of services and all of them were running. Sometime around 2004, Microsoft realized this was a liability. It harmed computer performance and security.

What do I know about services?

I’m very interested in services. I wrote the first book about Windows performance, way back in 1999. I’ve reviewed Windows 7 builds for large companies, including what services they needed to be running and not running. One company had Microsoft themselves review the configuration and Microsoft agreed with me. So I think you can say I know my way around Windows pretty well.

I also know that you can start or stop a service from a command prompt by typing a command like net stop dnscache. I’ll bet Max and CSA don’t know that.

Back to services

It’s completely normal for some services to not be running.  Some services even stop themselves and restart on demand, which is nice. It means they get out of the way when you don’t need them, and come back when you do. Thanks to features like this, we don’t need an Intel i7 CPU and 64 gigs of RAM just to run Word.

Let’s take a look at some services on my computer.

If that status column is blank, the service isn’t running.

I’ll bet you a dollar Max was going to have me scroll to Software Protection, tell him whether it was running, and tell me that since it’s not running, my computer is having the equivalent of a digital heart attack.

If that service happened to be running, no worries. I count 124 others that aren’t. If I don’t know much about computers, I’m sure he can convince me one of those is a really big deal, and a reason for me to pay a bunch of money for some a useless, and potentially harmful service from his company.

Max’s second move

If I needed more convincing, Max might have had me open a command prompt and type netstat -a. That’s a common scam that scares people not familiar with netstat. He’ll claim any open network connection is a virus. It’s not. Windows computers gab more than small children.

What your move should be

So if you’re in the middle of a phone call like this, feel free to tell Max that your buddy Dave says there’s nothing wrong with your computer that he can fix. Save your money, hang up on Max, and try out some of Dave’s fixes for Windows 10. They’re free.

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