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Beware of Computer Repair Scams

March 7, 2018

Computer repair and tech support scams can trap consumers into revealing personal information or paying for phony assistance with their digital devices.

Many Ohioans have reported a common variation of the scam – receiving unexpected telephone calls from con artists pretending to be affiliated with Microsoft, Windows, or a legitimate-sounding tech support or anti-virus software company.

In this scam, the caller claims the consumer’s computer has been infected by a virus or other malicious software. The caller attempts to convince the consumer to pay to have the “problem” fixed. Ultimately, the scammers request remote access into the consumer’s computer, supposedly to install antivirus software to resolve the issues. (Remote access allows someone to gain access to a computer through the Internet and free downloadable software.)

Consumers who fall for this scam face at least two potential problems. First, they likely have provided their credit card information to the scammer and paid for an unnecessary or worthless service. Second, by allowing remote access into their computer, they may have compromised any personal information stored on their device and opened the door to malware being loaded onto their computer by the con artist.

While the scams often begin with a phone call, con artists also use other methods to try to dupe Ohioans into falling for a computer repair or tech support scam.

In some cases, consumers receive warning messages on their computers stating they have a virus or other serious problem. The message often looks official and includes a telephone number to call for tech support. Upon calling, the consumer is persuaded to let the scammer “fix” the issues for a price, often hundreds of dollars.

Other consumers have searched online for computer help and have ended up contacting a scammer who had placed a legitimate-looking advertisement designed to lure unsuspecting consumers. They pretend to offer computer repair services, but they never provide any real help. Instead they work to gain access to consumers’ money or personal information.

Follow these tips to help steer clear of potential computer repair and tech support scams: