Beware of Computer Scams! – Pleasant Hill, CA
“Hello, I’m calling from Windows and I think your computer may be infected with a dangerous virus.”
We have had several customers who have received this type of phone call. They weren’t really the victim of a dangerous computer virus – at least not yet! Instead, they were the victim of an international scam. The victims are instructed to follow a set of steps on their computer to allow remote access and give the scammers complete control of the victim’s computer. At this time, the scammers will indeed download viruses of their own and then ask for payment to clean the virus. Most of the time, our customers have stopped at this point, refuse to pay (wire transfer or give their credit card information over the phone), and hung up on the scammer. However, they are now infected (or locked out) and need our services to correct the problem.
Here is a good post from NBC news that describes a typical computer scam telephone call:
Here are a few tips to prevent this scam from happening to you:
1) Read and share this blog! Tell your family and friends about this scam!
2) Microsoft, or other major companies like your Internet Service Provider (ISP), do not monitor your computer and will not make unsolicited calls to fix or tune-up your computer.
3) If the caller does say they are with your ISP (ex. Comcast or AT&T) or another recognizable company, hang up and call using a published telephone number for that company.
4) Maintain virus detection on your computer. We highly recommend Kaspersky Anti-virus for virus protection for most computers. We find that Microsoft Security Essentials is a pretty good free option (better than many paid Anti-virus software).
5) Find and contact a local computer company that you trust. Scams and viruses come in waves, and chances are we have talked with other customers about the latest “scam of the month.”
We had one recent customer who had allowed the scammer to remote in to his computer but then refused to wire the funds. The result was that the scammer activated an encryption that would not allow the person to use his computer at all.
We have at least one or two customers a month from within our central Contra Costa service area (Pleasant Hill, Martinez, Concord, Walnut Creek, Lafayette) who are telling us they have been contacted by similar scammers. If you get such a call, know that it is a scam. No one from a major computer company will be calling a customer. Don’t ever allow a stranger to remote in to your computer. And don’t ever wire funds (or give your credit card information) to a stranger who called you!
– Wade Cantrell – owner Cantrell’s Computer Sales & Service