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F parameter not specified

I've been plagued at home recently with calls from an Indian callcentre - usually a woman - asking if my computer is OK or if I've had any problems. I've answered 'no problems thanks' and put the 'phone down until today, when I decided to play along.

They claim to be Microsoft Certified, and since "you are using Microsoft Update" their call is part of the followup service.

She asked me if I would run a couple of diagnostic test on my computer. After asking which Windows OS I was using (XP) she got me to click Start-->Run and in the Run dialogue box, type CHKDSK and press Return. This starts Windows disk checking software, and is a perfectly valid thing to do once in a while. (If it doesn't start immediately you may need to type CHKDSK and return at the command prompt which appears.)

Once you do this, you get this window:

She asked me how the check was going, and then said "Can you see something saying WARNING! F parameter not specified?" I replied yes, and she told me "That means your computer is infected".

Ah, now I see where you're going! She went on to try to sell me some anti-virus software I didn't need until I got fed up and put the 'phone down on her.

If someone calls you up and tells you that "WARNING! F parameter not specified" means your computer is infected, they're con artists trying to scam you. The message simply tells you that you didn't specify the F parameter (which in this case means you're just scanning the disk and not trying to sort any problems it might find.)

Presumably they have slightly different scare tactics for Vista and Windows 7 users - I'm not sure if the messages are the same on them.


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