Classic tech support scam seeing resurgence - KCTV5

UPDATE

Classic tech support scam seeing resurgence

Posted: Updated:
KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

A classic scam is seeing a resurgence in some areas, including Kansas City.

Earlier this week, the Better Business Bureau of Central Oklahoma said it's received calls from people in their area about a scam that involves "tech support" employees installing viruses on victims' computers and asking for financial information.

Here's how the scam works. Victims get a telephone call from someone claiming to be with tech support, usually from a well-known company such as Microsoft, telling them their computer is sending error messages, and they're detecting a virus on the computer. The scammer says only a tech support employee can remove the virus, but they first need access to the computer.

If the victim gives the OK, the caller will run a scan and point out how the virus has infected the computer. They then offer to remove the virus for a fee and ask for credit card information. Victims who allowed the caller remote access to their computers, whether they paid for the virus to be removed or not, reported difficulties afterwards, according to the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center.

"Usually with this scam, the ‘tech support' employees just get credit card information, but now they're getting access to a victim's computer and installing harmful viruses," said Kitt Letcher, president and chief executive officer of BBB. "Oklahomans should be wary of anyone trying to gain access to their computer over-the-phone and should never give out financial information."

Multiple KCTV5 employees received calls Wednesday from a person making the same claims. They directed those they called to the website TPlaza.info, citing that as their main contact page.

It set off warning bells because KCTV5 has an IT department, but the scammers are calling people at home, too.

"He's called himself Ben, Tom, Charlie and Adam," said Charlotte Melson of Raytown, MO.

Melson got calls on her home phone and her cell phone, calls with area codes from multiple states.

"The first time he called me, I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I'm getting this phone call. Something's wrong with my computer,'" she said.

Her skepticism kicked in just as she was about to press enter on a code the caller had given her.

KCTV5 employees questioned the man calling the station, and he claimed he was hired by Microsoft to scan the computer for irregularities.

The BBB of Kansas says this is often referred to as the Microsoft scam, and it's been going on and evolving for over a year.

The local Better Business Bureau said the caller directs a person to an error page that could scare anyone who doesn't know that the errors are old and insignificant.

"They'll pull up a few things and say, ‘This is going to crash your computer. Do you want your computer to crash?' They use a scare tactic," said Cherie Reese of the BBB of Greater Kansas City.

Once a person gives them remote access, the caller can monitor every keystroke, including bank passwords and credit card numbers.

"Microsoft is not just going to call you out of the clear blue and say that we need to fix your computer. Usually they wait for you to call them when you have a problem with your computer," Reese said.

The BBB said it's easier to fall for this type of phone call scam than an email phishing scam because a person can ponder an email, but the phone call puts them on the spot. They urge anyone to report calls like this to them and the Federal Trade Commission.

Those who were taken or even think they may have been, the BBB recommends that they file a fraud alert with the three main credit bureaus and change all of their passwords.

BBB recommends the following tips for people if they receive the "tech support" calls:

Don't relinquish control of your computer. You should never give control of your computer to a third party unless you can confirm it's a legitimate representative of a computer support team with whom you are already a customer. Do not purchase any software or services or visit any website to download software that will allow them to take control of your computer remotely.

Be wary of providing your financial information. You should rarely, if ever, provide credit card and other financial information over-the-phone, especially to anyone claiming to be from "tech support."

Record caller's information. Take the caller's information and report it to your local authorities, BBB and the Federal Trade Commission Complaint Assistant website. Neither Microsoft nor their partners make unsolicited phone calls to charge customers for computer security or software fixes.

Protect yourself and your computer. If you did allow a caller to access your computer and realize it's a scam, you should change the passwords for your computer, email and online banking accounts. Also, be sure to run a virus scan and consider placing a fraud alert on your credit report if you shared personal and banking information.

There also also these three links for complaints or questions.

BBB: https://www.bbb.org/consumer-complaints/file-a-complaint/get-started

FTC: http://www.ftc.gov/faq/consumer-protection/submit-consumer-complaint-ftc

FBI: http://www.ic3.gov/complaint/default.aspx

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