Cottonwood has become the most recent target of computer scammers who claim to be technical support staff for Microsoft.
Layna Cirelli was working from home when she received a phone call from someone who claimed to work for Microsoft technical support. The connection was fuzzy, and she could barely understand the woman on the other end.
"They made it sound like there was a virus that got into my computer and was taking my personal information and sending it out over the internet," Cirelli said. "They made me get online and allow an interface so they could show me what files were being corrupted and compromised."
This interface allowed the scammers to gain remote access to Cirelli's computer. She asked the woman to call back to establish a better connection and, when there was no improvement, she asked to speak with a manager.
A man called her back and showed her what files were being distributed online. He told her they could fix her computer for $100, which she declined.
"He started screaming and yelling at me, 'Your system's going to crash!'" she said. "And I just hung up on him immediately."
She called All Service Computers owner Krista Little, who said she's seen about 10 of these cases in less than a month. Cirelli was the first.
"Layna was the only one of our clients that did follow through with the actual phone call with that particular person," Krista said. "There were infections that were directly related to giving them remote control of her computer."
This type of scam is not new, Little said. Microsoft's website warns users against any type of unsolicited communication from people claiming to work for the company or Windows.
Scammers often use local directories to find victims. They'll install programs that access a person's identity or financial information, Little said, or they'll use phishing software to record key strokes for the same purpose.
Older people and those who are less technically savvy are most at risk, Little said, because scammers use fear and "tech talk" to make victims panic.
"The younger population's grown up with knowing you just don't follow through with stuff like that," she said. "Their vision doesn't get blurred by technology."
In the same way a bank is never going to call and ask for personal information, Microsoft is never going to call and ask to access a person's computer, Little said.
To find out more about how to avoid online scams and where to report them, go to the Safety and Security Center at microsoft.com.
Posted: Monday, July 22, 2013
Article comment by:
If you read this, please inform your friends and relatives too. This has been going on for years one of my customers in Rimrock had this happen to her twice in the same day! One said they were from Microsoft, the next one said oh no, that was a scam, we are from Dell and we can really fix it! She was out $600 before she called me.
Please tell your Facebook friends too, and call your LOCAL computer support person if you need help with your computer.