From a reader: I got a call from someone … (who) claimed she was from a (computer) company and said she was getting message errors from my computer and that my computer was downloading unwanted data that could contain a virus. She wanted me to go to turn my computer on and she would walk me through the steps to stop it. I said I wasn’t going to do that. I would call my computer manufacturer and they would resolve any issues I might have. I also told her I would never just do something like that from a random phone call without checking out their business. She must have thought I would really do that. I know if I were to have done that I would have downloaded whatever scam she was running. The scary thing is I’m sure they scare some people into doing it and then they steal their identity and bank accounts and so on.
Action Line: I’m glad that you did not become the latest victim. We have seen and heard about many attempts from scammers like this. You are absolutely right! They are not looking to help you fix any computer issues. Consumers have advised that the callers indicated they are calling from Windows, Dell or Microsoft. They are not. They are looking to gain access to your computer so that they may get your personal bank information, your email list, logins, passwords, or any other private information that you may have stored on your computer.
By giving them access, you are compromising your personal identity.
We have also had reports from consumers that these callers, if they gain access to your computer, may actually infect your computer with malware or viruses. They can then offer you tech support, for a fee, of course. The fees that have been reported to us range anywhere from $59 to $389. The callers are always polite and just wanting to help. If you are the least bit uneasy about computers, these callers make it easy for you to trust them.
What can you do if you receive an unsolicited call?
• Don’t talk to the solicitor.
• Just say no to calls offering unsolicited tech support and hang up.
• Never, ever give anyone access to your computer unless you are CERTAIN about who you are dealing with.
• If you suspect that your computer has a virus or malware, you can usually take care of it yourself by running your own virus protection or any malware software.
• If you need a professional, check on the company with BBB before you hire someone to do the service.
• Do not go to any of the websites the solicitor gives you.
• Never give personal information like credit card numbers or any bank account information.
If you have a personal computer, here are some things you can do to help keep it secure:
• Update passwords regularly, and use a strong password. (Typically something that combines letters, numbers and characters, and doesn’t link to anything in your personal or professional life.)
• Use security updates.
• Make sure anti-virus software is turned on and up to date.
Action Line is written by Blair Looney, president and CEO for the Better Business Bureau serving Central California. Send your consumer concerns, questions and problems to Action Line at the Better Business Bureau, 4201 W. Shaw Ave., Suite 107, Fresno, CA 93722 or firstname.lastname@example.org.