Woman warns others to not fall victim to computer scammers - WSMV Channel 4

Woman warns others to not fall victim to computer scammers

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

An 80-year-old woman was no match for scammers. When someone called claiming to be with Microsoft and offering to fix her computer, she knew something didn't add up.

It's become a common ruse, and there are some important things to know what to watch out for.

The people calling you aren't really from Microsoft, and the changes they're asking you to make to your computer could end up costing you a lot.

One report by Microsoft says victims are scammed out of an average of $875, and there could end up being thousands of dollars worth of damage to your computer.

When Sara Whaley's phone rang, it wasn't the usual telemarketing call.

"I don't know how or why people got my number, but it's every day," she said. "He said he was a Microsoft-certified technician and his name was Ryan."

The caller said she needed to turn her computer on.

"He said that my computer had been invaded by something terrible, but Microsoft had told him to call me and he was going to fix it for free," Whaley said.

She asked him to call back the next day, then she called Microsoft directly.

"Microsoft said they had had hundreds of calls," she said.

Turns out it's a scam that's well known to Microsoft's cyber crimes investigators in California. The scammers can do a lot of damage if you let them have access to your computer.

They can trick you into installing malicious software that can capture information like your online banking user names. Or the scammers could direct you to bogus websites where you're asked to enter credit card information.

They might also request your credit card information to bill you for phony services.

Fortunately, Whaley wasn't one of the victims.

"I wasn't about to turn that computer on," she said.

Microsoft reported that 79 percent of the victims who did had money withdrawn from their bank accounts, had their passwords stolen or were victims of identity theft.

Microsoft says they don't make unsolicited calls, so you should just hang up.

"I'm afraid someone is going to do what they say," Whaley said.

Microsoft says if you already gave information to a fake tech support person, you should immediately change the passwords on your computer, your email account, your bank account and credit cards.

And to find out if there is malware on your computer, install Microsoft Security Essentials on your computer. It is a free program. If you're running Windows 8, the service is called Windows Defender.

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