New twist on scam tech support calls installs viruses on victims’ computers


YOUNGSTOWN — Consumers have been calling the BBB complaining that they have fallen victim to a fake support call scam. The caller claims he needs access to the consumer’s computer to fix a non-existent bug.

A new twist involves the caller actually installing a virus on victim’s computers.


The scam begins when a consumer receives a telephone call from someone claiming to be with tech support from a well-known software company. Microsoft is a popular choice. The callers often have strong accents, but use common names such as Adam or Bill.

The scammers may know the consumer’s name and other personal information, which they get from publicly available phone directories.

The caller tells the consumer that the computer is sending error messages, and they have detected a virus on it. The caller says only a tech support employee can remove the virus, but first the consumer will need to grant him remote access to the machine.

If the consumer gives the OK, the caller will run a scan of files and actually point out how the virus has infected the computer. The scammers will then offer to remove the virus, for a fee, and will then proceed to collect credit card information.

What happens

Those who allowed the caller remote access to their computers, whether they paid for the virus to be removed or not, reported difficulties with their computer afterwards, according to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.

Some victims said their computers would not turn on or certain programs/files were inaccessible. Other victims even reported taking their computers for repair, and the technicians confirmed software had been installed.

What to do?

Never give control of your computer to a third party unless you can confirm that it is a legitimate representative of a computer support team with whom you are already a customer.

Never provide your credit card or financial information to someone claiming to be from tech support.

Take the caller’s information down and report it to your local authorities or the FTC.

If you did allow a caller to access your computer: Change the passwords for your computer, email and online banking/credit card accounts. Be sure to run a virus scan.

Consider placing a fraud alert on your credit report if you shared personal and banking information with the scammer.


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