Better Business Bureau says Treasure Valley residents are losing thousands of dollars in a scam known as the “tech support scam” or “Microsoft scam.”
"On BBB’s Scam Tracker, we have reports of more than $2,000 lost to the scam in Idaho in the past 6 months," said BBB's Dale Dixon.
Dixon says the scam begins with a phone call or a pop up, alerting you there are a number of viruses on your computer. The caller says they can fix your computer and remove any problems for a fee, typically around $199, and they need access to your computer in order to remove the problem.
"They instruct you where to go and what to input, and soon they take over your computer. At this point, they can make it look like anything. They can pull up windows that seem to indicate viruses, and most importantly, they can start downloading viruses and programs to your computer. These programs are stealing information you have stored on your device. Remember, never give a stranger remote access to your computer," Dixon said.
If you get this scam, Dixon says to keep in mind that no one can call you and know what’s going on with your computer.
"Microsoft and other computer companies have made it clear they won’t cold call you. If you get that call, hang up. If you see a pop up that claims you have a virus, don’t click anything. If you do or if you have given scammers remote access, turn off your computer immediately and take it to an IT shop to help," Dixon said.
BBB also says if you have anti-virus software, run it. If you don’t, make sure you get it from a reputable source. Keep devices up to date. If you gave any payment information to one of these scammers, contact your bank right away. Monitor accounts closely for fraud. And watch for the “follow up” scam.
"Bad guys will come back for more, claiming they discovered another virus or can offer you “extended” protection," Dixon said.
For more information visit www.bbb.org .