Safe Families

Aug 20, 2014 11:54 AM by AP

The BBB of Acadiana warns residents of fake Microsoft computer repair calls

Computers are increasingly becoming a part of everyday life. We rely on them for everything from news, research and leisure activities such as games to online banking and shopping.

As a result, our personal computers often carry large amounts of information, including Social Security numbers, banking information and online bank account passwords. This opens the door for scammers to try to get access to computers by posing as trusted computer makers and service organizations.

The BBB has recently received several reports of a scam calling Acadiana residents posing to be Microsoft and asking for access to computers to "clean them up" or repair them.

One Acadiana resident said she received one such call from a man with a heavy foreign accent making these claims. He said he was working for Microsoft and called because he was aware she was having computer issues.

The scammer then asked for remote access to the computer to "perform repairs," but allowing access can lead to identity theft, the loss of personal banking information and the installation of viruses, worms or "key trackers," which secretly record every key stroke made by the user and transmits them to the scammer, allowing him or her access to private information.

The consumer was suspicious, and actually kept the man on hold as she called to confirm the validity of the call with Microsoft. The company spokesman said they never make calls the consumer described and declared the caller a scam.

When the consumer confronted the man pretending to be from Microsoft, he first claimed to be from a different department of the company then became very defensive and rude before hanging up, even calling the consumer "a dumb American."

The BBB of Acadiana offers the following tips for keeping your computer safe:

· Never allow anyone you do not know and trust remote access to your computer or passwords. Verify the person and company if you receive a call and remember most companies do not ask for passwords or access to your computer.

· Know who you're dealing with. It's remarkably simple for online scammers to impersonate a legitimate business, so you need to know whom you're dealing with. If you're shopping online, check out the seller before you buy. A legitimate business or individual seller should give you a physical address and a working telephone number at which they can be contacted in case you have problems.

· Use anti-virus and anti-spyware software, as well as a firewall, and update them all regularly. To be effective, your anti-virus software should update routinely with antidotes to the latest "bugs" circulating through the Internet. Most commercial anti-virus software includes a feature to download updates automatically when you are on the Internet.

· Protect your passwords. Keep your passwords in a secure place, and out of plain view. Don't share your passwords on the Internet, over email, or on the phone. Your Internet Service Provider (ISP) should never ask for your password.

· Learn who to contact if something goes wrong online. If your computer gets hacked or infected by a virus, immediately unplug the phone or cable line from your machine then scan your entire computer with fully updated anti-virus software, and update your firewall. Alert the appropriate authorities by contacting: your Internet Service Provider (ISP) and the hacker's ISP (if you can tell what it is). Also contact the FBI at http://www.ic3.gov. To fight computer criminals, they need to hear from you.

The BBB of Acadiana works for a trustworthy marketplace by maintaining standards for truthful advertising, investigating and exposing fraud against consumers and businesses. Please contact the BBB at www.acadiana.bbb.org or (337) 981-3497 24 hours a day for information on businesses throughout North America.

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