(NEW YORK) — Con artists are using old-fashioned technology to gain access to consumers’ newfangled technology.
Here’s how it works: A crook calls you on the phone, poses as a technician from a big company like Microsoft, and claims he’s detected a virus on your computer. The crook then asks for access to your computer in order to “help” you.
From there, the scheme can devolve into several different money-making ploys, according to the Federal Trade Commission. The con artist may:
As ABC News’ consumer correspondent Elisabeth Leamy points out, this is where her oldest and best advice — “be the hunter, not the hunted” — comes into play. In other words, learn to be skeptical of any stranger who comes at you claiming urgency and demanding money.
Instead, take the time to do your own search, says Leamy. Find a published help line number for your hardware or software manufacturer or Internet service provider and dial it yourself. Don’t rely on any phone number or website the caller provides, as it may be a fake.
And be careful where you look up the contact information you need, Leamy advises. A large company’s home page is a good place to start. An online ad is not so reliable, because the FTC says con artists have begun boldly placing ads containing false information in order to build an aura of realism around themselves.
If you have already fallen victim to one of these schemes, follow these steps:
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
John Newsome and Anne Woolsey, CNN