Yuma police warn the community about a new telephone scam involving fake technical support calls that are being reported in the area. The calls involve cyber criminals trying to obtain remote access to people’s computers.
“We have received a couple of reports so far,” said Officer Joe Franklin, a spokesman for the Yuma Police Department. “We just want to get the word out before it gets started and let people know it could happen to them.”
Franklin said in addition to damaging your computer, the goal of this particular type of scam is to gain access to all of your personal files on your computer – which could ultimately lead to identity theft and financial fraud.
The scam basically works like this: Franklin explained that the scammer will call you claiming to be from a computer service and try to convince you that there is a problem with your computer. The scammer tells them that information has been received that their computer has been either compromised and that an additional piece of software is needed in order to update or remove viruses that are causing it to run slowly — at a cost, of course.
“They are calling you. How do they know how your computer is acting?” Franklin asked. “Companies that provide Internet and computer services will not call you. This is the first indication that the call is not legitimate.”
You are then charged a fee either on your credit card or they ask you to wire money for payment for the “technical support” that will be received. Typically the fee is $300.00 or less. In order to seem more convincing the scammers say they represent Microsoft Tech Support, Windows Service Center, Windows Tech Support or Windows Helpdesk.
Franklin went on to say that after the scammer receives payment they offer to check your computer for any other problems and that they will send an email that contains attachments, with instructions to either install the updates or to open a link for remote access to fix your computer.
Once you open the link or the attachments you inadvertently allow the download of ransomware and now your computer and your personal information is now vulnerable. Franklin said the scammer now has access to all of your personal files and can remotely control your computer using it for various purposes like sending out spam mail.
In addition, he said if you paid with a credit card the scammer can use the number for online purchases or sell the number to other scammers for later use. Typically these cybercriminals are overseas and the possibility of identifying them is unlikely.
What can you do to safeguard yourself against this type of crime? Here are some tips:
• Don’t buy software or computer services from phone solicitors.
• Be wary of unsolicited calls and NEVER give your banking or credit card information over the phone to solicitors.
• Do not give third-party access to your computer remotely if you did not initiate the contact.
• Verify who is calling you by contacting the company yourself.
• Contact the police department when in doubt.
Franklin also said the easiest way to avoid having your computer comprised is to never click on an attachment or open a link from an unknown source.
If you have been the victim of this type of scam you should report it online at http://www.ic3.gov and provide as much information as possible. If you have any questions regarding this scam and believe you have been a victim, please contact the Yuma Police Department at (928) 783-4421.