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YCSO warning that computer repair telephone scam continues

9/29/16

NORTH VALLEY – Telephone scams are many and varied, and one scam that continues to target people around the country is computer repair scam calls. If you get a call from someone claiming to be from Microsoft or any other repair company that you haven’t authorized, hang up – these scammers can seriously damage your computer and scam you out of money.

Microsoft will never initiate unsolicited phone calls or web “alert” screen notifications regarding computer repair. Watch out for fake Web sites claiming a “fix” and always check the address bar. Avoid clicking on links in emails from unfamiliar sources.

Last year, the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office received several complaints regarding an ongoing scam involving fraud suspects representing themselves as “Microsoft” technical support employees. These scammers convince their “customers” to spend several hundred dollars as part of the fraud. In recent weeks, YCSO has taken new complaints regarding this scam and would again like to warn computer users of the ploy.

The current phone scam employs similar tricks to that of a fake antivirus software scam circulating the internet, also known as “scareware,” which tricks users by displaying a fake virus attack. Microsoft officials warn that a live phone version of the scam involves suspects who call and impersonate help desk engineers from legitimate software companies on their behalf. The scammers then pretend to warn users their PCs could be infected with malware and offer a free security check. The suspects will “cold call” their victims and create a sense of urgency that a computer fix is critical.

In reality, the scammers trick victims into allowing them to remotely access the user’s computer and download malware. The scammers then ask for a credit card payment from the user to continue the “repair,” which usually involves downloading fake security software to delete the malware the scammer just secretly installed. In most cases, the scammers can see your personal data, also. This scam has mainly affected seniors and those new to computing who believe they are actually speaking to a Microsoft representative. Some calls can last hours and will always involve payment for “services.” Most of the suspects in this scam are located overseas, even though caller ID information may display common U.S. phone numbers.

See www.microsoft.com/en-us/safety/online-privacy/avoid-phone-scams.aspx for more information from Microsoft.