Computer technicians claiming to work for Microsoft or other computer companies are contacting consumers to notify them that their computer either has operating problems, viruses or other issues that need immediate attention. The Better Business Bureau of North Alabama warns that these callers aim to gain remote access to your computer so that they can access your online banking information or download spyware that monitors your keystrokes.
Microsoft has no connection with these calls and will not call your home to offer virus protection. According to Microsoft, after gaining access to the computer, these callers can then install malicious software, steal personal information, take control of the computer remotely or direct consumers to fraudulent websites where they are asked to enter their credit card information.
Microsoft’s Online Safety and Security Center states that neither Microsoft nor its partners make unsolicited phone calls.
The caller may make the following claims to appear legitimate:
- Your computer is infected with a virus and it has ‘somehow’ reported that fact to the technical support company.
- Your computer is infected with a virus and it is sending out spam emails to people.
- Your computer is ‘somehow’ reporting critical software or hardware errors to the technical support company, or sending out error messages, and it is in danger of breaking or failing.
- Your Windows Operating System is corrupted and about to fail.
Follow these tips to protect yourself from this scam:
- Never grant remote access to your computer to unknown parties. Scammers will ask you to go to your computer to access the problem and allow them access. Ignore their instructions. To get access, they may ask you to enter in codes, instruct you to enter connection data into a form, request that you remove firewalls and other security measures, or ask you for other computer locating information.
- Install a firewall and anti-virus program to protect your computer and personal information. Update these programs frequently.
- Update your operating system and web browser software regularly.
- Protect your passwords by keeping them in a safe place. Create different passwords for each online account that you have.
- Never give personal or financial information to unsolicited callers.
- Contact your service provider directly if you are concerned about viruses or other security threats.
- Do not open or respond to emails or click links from unknown senders. This might infect your computer with malware or confirm that a spammer has reached a valid address.
- Find a computer repair company you can trust. Go to northalabama.bbb.org to find a BBB Accredited Business you can trust.
If you allowed a caller access to your computer, do the following:
- Run a virus scan.
- Change the passwords for your computer, email and online banking/credit card accounts.
- Consider placing a fraud alert on your credit report if you shared personal and banking information with the scammer. See our article on Identity Theft for more information on fraud alerts.
Source: Better Business Bureau of North Alabama and Microsoft Online Safety and Security Center