Every year it seems there is a new crop of scams and this year is no exception. El Dorado resident Diane Lagorio received a call from a supposed Microsoft computer technician in India reporting that a virus had been detected on her computer.
“I use a computer, but I don’t understand the workings of it, ” said Lagorio, 76, “so when he said he could run a check to look for the virus, I allowed it.” The bogus technician said he had found three viruses which he could remove for $233. Lagorio would also receive three years of protection from future viruses. Worried about the possible damage to her computer, Lagorio allowed her credit card to be charged for the service.
A month later, the scam took a twist when Lagorio received another call from the technician who told her that the U.S. government would not allow someone in India to provide the removal services and so they had to refund her money. The technician asked for an ATM pin number or a bank account number to deposit her refund. Lagorio refused and told them to credit her credit card.
Refunding to a credit card account was not possible, according to the tech, but an account could be set up at Western Union for her and the refund could be deposited there. Lagorio was given a Western Union account number and told she would have to call to validate the refund with her bank account number.
When she called Western Union, Lagorio was told that Western Union never allows accounts to be set up for one person by another and that this was a scam to get her bank account number and more money out of her since the Western Union account number she was given went to a bank in India.
“Western Union said they had several people scammed like this and the FBI was investigating it,” said Lagorio. She called the Microsoft Corp., who told her they never contact customers. Customers must call them. Lagorio called her credit card company to cancel her card and was told that they were also familiar with the scam.
“It was an expensive lesson. You need to check before you leap,” said Lagorio. “None of the computer corporations will call you unless you’ve called them first.”
When the Mountain Democrat contacted Microsoft, this response was given: “Our advice is simple; treat callers as you would treat strangers in the street. Do not disclose personal or sensitive information to anyone you do not know. Unfortunately this is not the first scam of its kind, and it’s unlikely to be the last. The best way to avoid becoming a victim is by being aware of the threat. Consumers should also ensure the copy of Windows they are running is genuine and fully up to date, while ensuring they have installed legitimate software will guard against viruses, spyware, and other malicious software.”
With regard to whether Microsoft calls clients to report viruses, Microsoft responded : “There are some cases where Microsoft will work with your Internet service provider and call you to fix a malware-infected computer, such as during the recent cleanup effort begun in our botnet takedown actions. These calls will be made by someone with whom you can verify you already are a customer. You will never receive a legitimate call from Microsoft or our partners to charge you for computer fixes.”
Contact Wendy Schultz at 530 344-5069 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @wschultzMtDemo on Twitter.