NORFOLK -- Scammers are using an old trick to take advantage of a new security problem as Microsoft prepares to end support for Windows XP.
The popular operating system will no longer be supported by Microsoft starting April 9, which means the company will no longer issue security updates for the operating system.
13News Now Investigation: Windows XP security risk
The only way to protect your computer from cyber predators is to upgrade to Windows 7 or later. Those who do not upgrade their operating systems will be leaving their computers open to attack, experts told 13News Now.
"It's kind of like leaving the back door of your house open and hoping nobody's going to wander by and see that it is open and walk in and take something that may be important to you," explained Jesse Welsch of EnduranceIT.
Welsch and his company have been helping clients upgrade their computers and networks ahead of the pending switch for years. Not upgrading and leaving the information out there is risky, according to Welsch.
"It doesn't take a lot for these bad actors to build what's called an avatar and then take that avatar out to the world and do things under your name," Welsch explained.
More information from Jesse Welsch
But some clever tricksters are using the switch from Windows XP as an opportunity to trick unsuspecting computer owners.
Welsch has heard of two different scams surrounding the switch.
In the first, someone calls offering to upgrade your computer over the phone in exchange for money and personal information about your computer. In the second scam, a caller offers to continue supporting the security elements of Windows XP for a fee.
Welsch said neither are legitimate.
"So, if someone calls you and wants to upgrade your XP over the phone, that's a scam?" asked 13News Now investigative reporter Nick Ochsner.
"Ya, that's definitely a scam," Welsch said. "While Microsoft is going to do a very good job of making sure everybody is aware of this April 8 deadline, the one step they're not going to take is picking up the phone and calling individuals or businesses and saying, 'Hey, let us upgrade you over the phone.'"
Welsch said the easiest way to know whether or not your computer is running Windows XP is to watch the screen after you turn your machine on.
Microsoft also has a diagnostic tool that can tell you whether or not our machine is capable of upgrading from XP to Windows 7 or 8.