CRYSTAL FALLS—Sheriff Valesano would like to warn residents about a new scam that is emerging in Iron County. Scam artists have been calling claiming to be computer technicians associated with well-known companies like Microsoft who are calling to say they’ve detected viruses or other malware on your computer.
Once they have you on the phone they either try to sell you worthless security software, asking for credit card information for this bogus “protection” software OR they tell you they can fix your problem and ask you to give them remote access to your computer. Once they have access to your computer or credit card information they can:
--Bill you for phony services, or services you can get on the internet for free.
--Try to enroll you in a worthless computer maintenance or warranty program.
--Tick you into installing malware that can steal sensitive data like user names and passwords.
--Direct you to “fake” websites where you enter your credit card number and other personal information.
Regardless of which method they employ these scammers have one purpose: to steal your hard-earned money.
If you receive one of these calls Sheriff Valesano suggests you keep these tips in mind:
--If you get a call from someone who claims to be a tech support person, hang up and call the company yourself on a phone number you know to be genuine (do not use a number they give to you – these scammers commonly have “offices” and “websites” set up to appear legitimate).
--Don’t ever give control of your computer to a third party who calls you out of the blue.
--Don’t rely on Caller ID to authenticate a caller. Scammers can spoof Caller ID numbers. They may appear to be calling from a legitimate company such as Microsoft, when in reality they are in a shack who knows where with a cell phone and computer.
--Online search results may not be the best way to find technical support or get company contact information. Scammers sometimes place online ads to convince you to call them. They pay to boost their ranking in search results so that their websites appear above those of legitimate companies.
--Never provide your credit card or financial information to someone who calls you.
--If a caller pressures you to buy a computer security product or says there is a subscription fee associated with the call, hang up.
--Never give your password over the phone. No legitimate organization will call you asking for your password.
--Put your phone number on the National Do Not Call Registry.
--Report suspected fraud to the Michigan Attorney General’s fraud hotline 1-877-765-8388.
If you’ve responded to a scam Sheriff Valesano suggests you keep these tips handy:
--Get rid of malware by updating or downloading legitimate security software and scan your computer. Delete anything it identifies as a problem.
--Change any passwords that you gave out. If you use these passwords for other accounts, change those accounts too.
--If you paid for bogus services with a credit card, call your credit card provider and ask to reverse the charges. Check your statements for any other charges you didn’t make and ask to reverse those too.
--If you believe that someone may have accessed your personal or financial information please visit the FTC’s identity theft website www.consumer.ftc.gov.