The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Money

September 8, 2013

Consumers being warned about tech support scam

The Better Business Bureau is warning consumers about tech support calls to fix your computer.

Here’s how the scam works: You get a telephone call from someone claiming to be with tech support from a well-known software company. Microsoft is a popular choice. The callers have strong accents and use common names such as “Adam” or “Bill.”

The scammer may know your name and other personal information, which they get from publicly available phone directories. They might even guess what computer operating system you’re using.

The caller tells you that your computer is sending error messages, and they’ve detected a virus on it.

They claim only a tech support employee can remove the virus, but first you need to grant them access to your machine.

If you give the OK, the caller will run a scan of your files and actually point out how the virus has infected the computer. The scammers then offer to remove the virus — for a fee. Of course, they need your credit card information first.

Here’s the twist. Those who allowed the caller remote access to their computers, whether they paid for the virus to be removed or not, reported difficulties with their computer afterward, according to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center. Some said their computers would not turn on or certain programs/files were inaccessible. Some victims even reported taking their computers for repair, and the technicians confirmed software had been installed.

If “Tech Support” calls:

- Never give control of your computer to a third party unless you can confirm that it is a legitimate representative of a computer support team with whom you are already a customer.

- Never provide your credit card or financial information to someone claiming to be from tech support.

- Take the caller’s information down and report it to your local authorities or the FTC.

If you did allow a caller access to your computer:

- Change the passwords for your computer, e-mail and online banking/credit card accounts.

- Be sure to run a virus scan.

- Consider placing a fraud alert on your credit report if you shared personal and banking information with the scammer.

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