submitted by Bucks County Consumer Protection Agency
Q. My home computer seems to be working just fine. My husband and I don’t use it often though; just for email and occasionally online shopping. That is why I was surprised to receive numerous telephone calls last night informing us that our “computer has a critical issue.”
The caller actually asked for my husband by name, which caused me even more concern. My husband answered the first call that came up “private” on our caller ID thinking it was probably our daughter who has an unlisted number. Instead it was a man informing us of the danger of not fixing our computer problem.
My husband believes it was a scam because they called repeatedly and from different numbers. Do you think that this could have been a legitimate call about our computer? J.M. Doylestown
A. The call that you received is not a new one but is increasing in numbers with computer users. The person on the other end of the line may sound professional when he warns you that your computer has been seriously infected with a virus. They will go on to tell you that they can help rid your computer of this virus so that you do not lose any data and to prevent the risk of damaging your device.
The only thing they need from you is your credit card information. They may even ask you to sign in to your computer, giving them access to fix the “problem.” Once the scammer has been given access to the victims system, the victim may see frightening looking error messages requiring immediate payment to clean up your infected computer and to install software so that your computer is “protected.”
In reality, what they are installing is malware (malicious software) in order to gain access to your online shopping and/or banking information. Remember that reputable computer repair companies would not contact you unless they were already working with you on a support issue. They certainly would not ask for remote access without the owner’s approval.
If you have become a victim of this scam you must; contact the Fraud Prevention Department of your credit card company or bank, change your computer password and update your computer’s security software. If you are unsure as to how security software works or which is best, contact a reputable computer company for advice.
If you ever receive an unsolicited computer support call, hang up. Rest assured that it is a cybercriminal scam call.
If you believe you may have been scammed in any way, feel free to call the Bucks County Consumer Protection Office at 1-800-942-2669 and ask to speak with a Consumer Investigator.