Beware of High-Tech Computer Scams

Many people own computers nowadays, but not everyone has the technical background to fix things that go wrong on their computers. As a result, scam artists are now taking advantage of people with several high-tech computer scams.

Tech Support Scams.

The “tech support scam” works like this: A person receives a call at home from someone who claims to be a “tech support specialist” with a well-known computer or software company. The caller says that your computer has been infected by a malicious virus or spyware. He may use scare tactics, claiming that your computer will crash or the information on it will be misappropriated if you don’t immediately fix the problem. The caller says he can correct the problem for a fee if you allow him to remotely install anti-virus software, usually by going to a website to which he sends you. Wanting your computer to be fixed, you visit the website and give him your credit card number. Weeks later, you may discover that your account was charged not only for the supposed software repair “service,” but also for other unauthorized transactions. If you let the caller install a program onto your computer by visiting his website, you may also find that malware or spyware has been installed on your computer that allows the fraudster to drain from your computer private bank account numbers.

Ransomware Scams.

So-called “ransomware” scams work like this. While you are visiting a website, malicious software is installed on your computer, causing it not to work. A “pop up” box then appears on your computer, telling you that the computer has been infected. The scammer asks you to pay money to download software to repair the problem. If you do so, you give your credit card number to scammers, who will charge your account for bogus help and may use your credit card to make other unauthorized charges.

Protect Yourself From High-Tech Scams.

Take the following precautions to avoid being hit up by these scams:

Help! I am a Victim of a High-Tech Computer Scam.

If you become a victim of a tech support scam, take the following steps:

Federal Bureau of Investigation
Minneapolis Office

1501 Freeway Boulevard
Brooklyn Center, MN 55430
(763) 569-8000
www.fbi.gov

You may also wish to file a report with the Federal Trade Commission as follows:

Federal Trade Commission
Consumer Response Center
600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20580
Toll free: 1-877-382-4357
www.consumer.ftc.gov

Office of Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson
1400 Bremer Tower
445 Minnesota Street
St. Paul, MN 55101
(651) 296-3353
1-800-657-3787
TTY: (651) 297-7206
TTY: 1-800-366-4812

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