SPOKANE, Wash. - If you use a computer, the Better Business Bureau says it's just a matter of time before you're targeted by scammers posing as computer technicians.
Those scammers claim that they need to fix a virus on your computer, when they are actually trying to get their hands on your sensitive information.
The scam works through intrusive pop-ups and phone calls that trick you into believing your computer is in peril. They claim you have a virus infecting your computer, and possibly even a network of computers. Sometimes they even claim they will report you to authorities if you don't get the issue fixed.
While scams usually prey on the elderly, this one targets tech-trusting Millennials.
"It's actually younger people that are more likely to be the victim of a scam, especially those that have been dealing with devices pretty much their whole lives. They trust them," said Kirsten Davis with Spokane's Better Business Bureau.
One Millennial who fell victim to the scam is 29-year-old Amy Sowell.
"If I exited out of the pop up, I would lose all of my data on my hard drive. So I called the number which said they were a Microsoft partner and didn't think twice about calling the number," she said.
When she did call the number, the person on the other end convinced her to pay $150 to have the issue fixed. That issue never even existed.
"I had this gut feeling that something wasn't quite right. I googled Microsoft partner and I found out they were a scam," Sowell said.
Davis says you should never call the number that is provided on a pop up. If you do, they'll usually ask for remote access to your computer and could be installing viruses of their own to steal your identity.
"You're dealing with possibly bank accounts, sensitive information, your social security number so that they can commit identity theft and on top of that, now they're going to ask you to probably pay for that process because they're telling you they're fixing your computer," Davis said.
Davis says if you do get a virus it's best just to shut down your computer entirely. If you get a phone call from someone claiming a virus is infecting your computer, hang up immediately and report the number to the BBB's website.
In just the first nine months of this year, people have lost $21 million to tech support scams. Most of those calls are coming from India, with only a small portion coming from within the U.S.
If you do get scammed, be sure to call your credit card company to inform them what happened and get the charge removed.
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