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Phone scammers target computer users

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By LPR Staff

Editor/POST-REGISTER

 

Lockhart residents are reporting this week a new telephone scam, targeting computer users who might not be technologically savvy.

“They called me and said they were from Microsoft, and they had tracked a problem with my computer,” said a recent complainant, who asked that her name be withheld. “And I?

??m suspicious by nature, and I knew that they were trying to take me in, but I got taken in anyway.”

The retired educator reported during the phone call with the would-be scammer, she was told that her computer had a fatal virus, and she was asked to go to a website to download software that would allow the caller access to her computer.

“After they told me they fixed the problem, they said the cost for the fix and for protection from downloading the virus again would be $150,” she said.

After taking her credit card number, the caller said the card was not accepted, and asked her for her zip code, so he could download a list of stores in the area where she could go to process the payment.

Fortunately, one of the locations to appear on her computer was her local bank.

“I told them I wasn’t going to pay, and they said if I didn’t, I would lose everything on my computer,” she said. “I hung up on them, and luckily, I was able to get in touch with a technician right away that was able to save my computer.”

She said she also contacted her bank to cancel the credit card, realizing the scammer now had enough information to steal her identity. Additionally, she reported the incident to local police, who took the report but noted it would be difficult to locate the would-be scammer, because of the nature of the scam.

Contacting would-be victims by telephone to take control of their computers is not a new game, according to Microsoft. In fact, the computer giant has a website dedicated specifically to ensuring customer safety against scams.

“Neither Microsoft nor our partners make unsolicited phone calls (also known as cold calls) to charge you for computer security or software fixes,” the website says. It also cautions customers to remember never to give personal information, passwords or credit cards to anyone claiming to be Microsoft or an affiliate over the telephone, unless the customer initiates the contact with customer service.

Such cyber-crimes are all too common in today’s society. Often, would-be scammers use information from the telephone directory, website registrations or other information to target their victims, and all too often, people are taken by the charm, trickery or presumed expertise of the suspects.

Finally, experts warn computer users to avoid giving any information, or clicking on pop-up windows if they have even a remote sense of discomfort with the situation.

To report a cyber-crime, contact the Lockhart Police Department at (512) 398-4401, or the Caldwell County Sheriff’s Office at (512) 398-6777.


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