Local computer store employees are warning customers that phone scams targeting home computer users, including some common years ago, are making a come back.
One scam that is rearing its head again is a version of the “Microsoft” scam. In that scam hackers call victims and talk them into giving them their credit card information to pay for online repairs to their machines. The victim often sees over-charges, and gets no repairs.
Buckeye PC Repair Co-Owner Robert Leath said the “Microsoft” scam was common a few years ago, then died off, but is now back in vogue.
“They hope people forget,” Leath said. “Next year it will be something different and we may see it again two years from now.”
A 58-year-old New Carlisle man told the Springfield News-Sun that he nearly fell victim to the “Microsoft” scam last week. The News-Sun agreed not to identify him at his request.
He said a person first called his home saying they represented Microsoft and told him that hackers were ruining his computer.
The person on his phone instructed him how to open certain windows that showed 7,400 warnings and error messages.
The victim said he was skeptical, so he checked the phone number of the caller a white-pages service online and it came up as “Windows Technical Department.”
That seemed to verify the caller, so the victim said he gave the man control of his computer via the Internet to fix the problems.
After opening more windows the scammer said it would costs $40 for his computer to work properly, and if he did not pay it would not work.
The victim gave his credit card information, but said when a bill for $350 appeared on the screen, he became suspicious.
The victim’s bank stopped the transaction and he was not charged anything. He said he hopes his story helps another person from falling victim to the same scam.
Leath explained neither Microsoft nor similar companies would ever call a customer and ask for money to fix a problem over the phone.
If you do get a similar call, Leath said just hang up.
He added if you do fall victim to a phone scam like this and do give someone control of your computer you should get it checked out locally by a computer repair service. The scammers can not only try to bilk a person’s credit card, they can also install hidden tracking software on the computer that could divulge passwords or other data.