Joanne Love of Tamaqua immediately knew the caller was trying to scam her when he urgently warned her about a computer virus Microsoft had detected on her computer.
The caller on the other end of her phone line was insistent and persistent, telling Love she needed to immediately go to her computer and "follow a few steps to get rid of the virus."
Love knew it was some type of scam, not because she's a computer expert, but because she doesn't actually have a computer in her home.
"How can I have a computer virus if I don't have a computer?" she laughs. She shared this information with the "tech support" guy, but he refused to believe her. So, she hung up and immediately contacted the authorities.
The Better Business Bureau has received numerous calls concerning this type of attempt to gain access to individual's computers. The person from "tech support" claims there is a 20 minute window of opportunity to prevent this "virus" from causing your computer to crash. Consumers who hestitate are told to go to their computer, log in and then follow a few simple steps. Those steps will actually give the caller remote access to your computer, where they could install malicious software, steal personal information or remotely direct consumers to fake websites, where they would be asked for credit card information.
BBB offers consumers a few tips to protect themselves from such scams: contact your service provider if you are concerned your computer has been exposed to security threats; install virus detection software; don't trust cold calls - never give personal information to someone you don't know unless you have initiated the call; find a trustworthy computer repair company at www.bbb.org.
Pennsylvanians who believe they may be the target of a scam should contact their local police departmnet or the state attorney general's office. Older residents may also contact the Elder Abuse Hotline at 1-800-490-8505.