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Scammers call on bogus computer virus: Tech help? Call a local provider

A virus has been detected on your home computer, and the tech department has called to walk you through fixing this.

How do they know? And what’s up with this hard-to-understand foreign person on the phone?

Feels like one, sounds like one … yep, it’s a scam.

Last week, three readers informed the Free Press they were contacted on the phone by someone claiming to be from a technical department, that a virus had been detected on their computer, and this person was here to help fix it. One potential victim said the caller I.D. listed an “unknown caller, unknown number” for the call. Another victim was suspicious from the start, as she hasn’t used her home computer since last September.

In this scam, cybercriminals offer to help solve purported technical problems, but once they have gained the victim’s trust they attempt to steal information and/or damage the computer with malicious software including viruses and spyware. Often, scammers purport to be from Microsoft Tech Support; the company states they do not make these kinds of calls and to hang up on the caller if you receive one.

Best advice: If you suspect a computer problem, contact a local tech service provider through the phone book or Free Press business directory. Don’t provide computer access information over the phone to someone you don’t know.

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