A classic scam is seeing a resurgence in Oklahoma. Better Business Bureau of Central Oklahoma (BBB) is receiving calls from Oklahomans about a scam that involves “tech support” employees installing viruses on victims’ computers and asking for financial information.
Here’s how the scam works. Victims get a telephone call from someone claiming to be with tech support, usually from a well-known company such as Microsoft, telling them their computer is sending error messages, and they’re detecting a virus on the computer. The scammer says only a tech support employee can remove the virus, but they first need access to the computer.
If the victim gives the OK, the caller will run a scan and point out how the virus has infected the computer. They then offer to remove the virus for a fee, and ask for credit card information. Victims who allowed the caller remote access to their computers, whether they paid for the virus to be removed or not, reported difficulties afterwards, according to the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center.
“Usually with this scam, the ‘tech support’ employees just get credit card information, but now they’re getting access to a victim’s computer and installing harmful viruses,” said Kitt Letcher, president and CEO of BBB. “Oklahomans should be wary of anyone trying to gain access to their computer over-the-phone and should never give out financial information.”
BBB recommends the following tips for Oklahomans if they receive the “tech support” calls:
Don’t relinquish control of your computer. You should never give control of your computer to a third party unless you can confirm it’s a legitimate representative of a computer support team with whom you are already a customer. Do not purchase any software or services or visit any website to download software that will allow them to take control of your computer remotely.
Be wary of providing your financial information. You should rarely, if ever, provide credit card and other financial information over-the-phone, especially to anyone claiming to be from “tech support.”
Record caller’s information. Take the caller’s information, and report it to your local authorities, BBB and the Federal Trade Commission Complaint Assistant website. Neither Microsoft nor their partners make unsolicited phone calls to charge customers for computer security or software fixes.
Protect yourself and your computer. If you did allow a caller to access your computer and realize it’s a scam, you should change the passwords for your computer, email and online banking accounts. Also, be sure to run a virus scan and consider placing a fraud alert on your credit report if you shared personal and banking information.