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Sun, Jan. 19

More locals receive scam call about fixing fake computer problem

When a Prescott woman's husband called to ask her if it was all right to download a program that a man claiming to be from Microsoft said would fix a security issue on their computer, she told him not to.

Sara Campbell's skepticism kept her family from falling victim to a computer repair scam about which the Better Business Bureau has received several calls from Prescott-area residents in recent weeks, said Mary Hawkes, director of the Better Business Bureau's Yavapai County Office.

Residents said they received phone calls from people who claim to be with Live Tech Support representing Microsoft or a Windows Service Center, and tell them errors or warnings have been discovered on their computer that, if not corrected, will crash or severely damage their computer, Hawkes said.

"The scammer offers to demonstrate the computer problems and fix those problems over the phone by instructing consumers to follow their commands on the computer," Hawkes said. "But in reality, the scammer may install malicious software when they gain remote access to the computer. Or they may request credit card information to bill for computer repair services."

According to Microsoft's Safety and Security Center website, "Microsoft does not make unsolicited phone calls to help you fix your computer."

BBB suggests the following tips for consumers to stay safe online:

• Protect your computer and your personal information from malware with a firewall and an anti-virus program; update those programs regularly.

• Update your operating system and web browser software regularly.

• Protect your passwords. Keep them in a secure place. Create passwords that have at least eight characters and use numbers, symbols and letters. Do not use the same password for each online account that you have.

• Back up important files.

• Be wary of unsolicited calls claiming a security problem or virus with your computer, even if they claim to represent a well-known company such as Microsoft.

• Know who you're dealing with. Never give personal or financial information to unsolicited callers.

If you received this call and allowed remote access to your computer, run anti-malware and anti-virus programs, and contact a reputable computer repair technician to further examine your computer for issues. If you provided credit card or bank account information, contact your financial institution immediately, Hawkes advised.

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