CCSO warns of computer scams targeting residents

Published 1:30 pm Friday, January 26, 2024

The Carter County Sheriff’s Office has received reports of computer-based scams targeting residents. In this scam, the person’s computer locks up and a pop-up message appears on their screen telling them to contact Microsoft at the number provided in the pop-up message. The problem is, this isn’t really a message from Microsoft and the phone number connects you to the scam artist and not Microsoft tech
support.The scam artist then asks the caller for information such as IP addresses, usernames, and passwords in order to access the computer to “fix the issue.” The scam artist then informs the person they will need to pay a fee for the technicians to “fix” the computer.
Another variation of this scam is the person receives a phone call from someone claiming to be tech support from Microsoft or another tech company and informs the person their computer is having an issue and they need access to your computer to fix it.
“With the many ways we use and rely on technology a person’s computer or other device can be their access to friends and family, part of how they do their job, or even how they access healthcare,” Sheriff Mike Fraley said. “These scams can be very convincing, and they prey upon people’s need to have that technology available.”
To help avoid becoming a victim of these or similar scams, according to Fraley, is to trust your instincts and be vigilant.
“Make sure you are dealing with a legitimate and reputable company,” Fraley said. “If a caller says your computer is broken or has a problem, hang up. A tech support call that you were not expecting or did not initiate is a scam, even if the telephone number looks legitimate. These scam artists can spoof telephone numbers and names so you cannot rely on Caller ID to verify that it is a legitimate business.”

Some good tips to follow to avoid scams are:
• Do not click links in unsolicited pop-up ads, pop-up messages, or emails.
• Do not call phone numbers from unsolicited pop-up ads, pop-up messages, or emails.
• If you get a pop-up message asking you to contact tech support, do not call the phone number listed in the pop-up. Instead, call the published customer support number for the software or computer manufacturer.
• Never give control of your computer to someone who contacts you out of the blue.
• Maintain your anti-virus software. Make sure you have the most up-to-date version and run regular scans on your computer.
• Do business only with recognized, reputable, legitimate companies
• Be extremely cautious when downloading apps, games, or programs to your computer or other devices. Only download these items from recognized and reputable companies and sources. Check the reviews to see if other users are reporting these items as scams or as having viruses.
• If it sounds too good to be true, then it most likely is a scam.

If you feel you have been a victim of a computer scam, take some immediate steps and contact law enforcement as soon as possible.
• Change your password on any devices or accounts that may have been compromised.
• Update your security software and run a scan immediately.

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