The Better Business Bureau has received numerous calls this week from consumers approached by telephone callers using a variation of a well known name like Microsoft to fix alleged security and virus issues on their home computer. The caller alleges that the consumer’s internet service provider has identified a problem with a virus or a security breach on the individual’s home computer and offers an online repair or fix to resolve these alleged issues. Owners of home computers are relative novices around technology and are typically concerned with protecting their computer and the data on their computer. As this solicitation seems to be a very “convenient” service offered by a“knowledgeable” and professional representative of a “brand name” firm, it is very appealing. Many consumers calling the BBB have complied with the telephone caller’s sales pitch and subsequent instructions, and have granted access to their home computer over the internet to unknown remote third parties to fix the alleged security and virus problems. As the process takes place the consumer is also asked to provide credit card information to pay for the service typically $119, $149, or some other amount perceived as reasonable.
The BBB is warning the Saskatchewan public that this is a scam that has been around since March 2010 in Canada, and longer than that in Europe and Australia. The telephone sales pitch is replacing the email approaches used in the past. Granting third party access to your computer over the internet is not recommended under any circumstances. Doing so in response to a telephone call alleging virus and security issues on a home computer opens the door to risks including but not restricted to downloading of new viruses, key-logging software, spyware, malware, and potentially the theft of vital information often found on a home computer including passwords, email addresses, bank and credit card information. The intent is malicious and may be as extreme as perpetrating identity theft reaching far beyond the loss of the funds paid by credit card for a service to fix a problem that may not even exist.
- Never respond to a telephone solicitation that offers to provide computer on-line services from any company regardless of the name and identifying information provided. Microsoft, Norton, AVG, Apple, Dell and other name brand suppliers will not solicit computer servicing in this manner.
- Keep your anti-virus software up to date, and run virus scans on a regular basis.
- Do not give out credit card or personal information over the telephone in response to a third party call offering on-line services. Hang up your telephone because the offer is a scam.
- If you think you might have computer performance issues, virus infections, spy-ware, or mal-ware on your home computer then identify reputable service providers in your community, look for the BBB accreditation, then call to obtain pricing information from multiple sources and schedule servicing of your computer with a reliable business.
- If you have doubt about any telephone or email solicitation offering online computer servicing, call the Better Business Bureau before you act.
You may contact the Better Business Bureau of Saskatchewan at (306) 352-7601, toll free at 1 (888) 352-7601 or online at www.sask.bbb.orgor email at firstname.lastname@example.org The Better Business Bureau of Saskatchewan, Inc. is a non-profit organization funded by accredited businesses throughout the province.
“The BBB… developing, encouraging and promoting ethical business practices in the marketplace.”