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Scammers pose as Microsoft support technicians to bilk consumers

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A phone scam has consumers handing over credit card information and control of their personal computers to crooks, New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman warns in a Feb. 18 press release. Schneiderman’s office has received several complaints from New Yorkers who have received calls from individuals claiming to be computer technicians with Microsoft, or an affiliate of the software company, using names such as P.C. Solutions.

The caller will attempt to gain remote access to a consumer’s computer on the pretext of searching for viruses or malware that may be causing a computer to run slowly. The scammers may have legitimate-looking caller ID’s such as “Windows Support,” tricking computer owners into believing they are dealing with the software company.

The scammers lead their target through the steps necessary to open the event log viewer, which shows errors and alerts. These alerts and warnings are normal, and not evidence of a virus, but consumers may believe there is a problem with their computer and allow remote access to their machine.

The scammers will then request credit card information, or direct consumers to a fraudulent site to enter credit card or PayPal information, to pay a fee, as much as $300, to correct the “problem.” Consumers that refused to pay the fee, in some cases, had their computers disabled by the scammer. Additionally, allowing remote access made their personal financial information vulnerable.

Schneiderman suggests that anyone receiving such a call hang up the phone. Never give out your password as no legitimate company would ask for this information. Do not give out your billing and credit card information over the phone if you did not initiate the call. Microsoft does not make unsolicited phone calls.

If you were tricked into allowing remote access to your computer, Schneiderman suggests you immediately change your passwords and run a security scan. Scrutinize your credit card statements and file a dispute with your credit card company for unauthorized charges. You may wish to close accounts that have been compromised.

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