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December 11, 2017 10:00 PM

BBB Study Finds Tech Support Scams Are A Growing Issue

Imagine shopping online or looking at social media when a loud, unusual pop-up message appears on your screen saying you have a virus and need tech support.  You call the number offered and give payment, only to find out later it was a scam.  The Better Business Bureau sent out a survey about just how bad these scams can get. 

According to the BBB's study, this year Americans lost out on more than $21 million.

It found that elderly consumers are more likely to file a complaint about these types of frauds and get their money back while millennials opt out of calling in and lose out on a chance to get their money back. 

She was the perfect victim. 

"I'm on the computer...and I get a call," Margaret Delthorp said. 

For an internet scam targeting anyone with a computer. 

"That says your computer has been infected with a virus and can we help you out," Delthorp said. 

Delthorp is one of millions of Americans who almost fell victim to this scam. 

"I said, 'Well, let me think about.' I said, 'Let me talk to my son-in-law,' and so then they hung up," Delthorp said. 

The BBB sent out a study on these tech support scams and the results are shocking. 

"We have found through our research that this is a worldwide problem. The victims in the U.S. account for 33 percent of the victims across the world," BBB State Director Jessie Schmidt said. 

The scammers are typically overseas and claim to be calling on behalf of Microsoft, saying your computer might be infected with a virus and they can help with tech support for a price.

"That's how it starts. Somebody remotely takes control of your computer. They tell you that it's going to be $179 for an hour's worth of tech support, so you pay them with your credit card," Schmidt said. 

Then the suspects install malware onto your computer, giving them access to your personal information. 

"Whatever you're typing on your screen is popping up on their screen. So your user names, your passwords, all that information and you may find out your investments accounts, your retirement accounts, your bank accounts are wiped out," Schmidt said. 

For 2017, the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center received more than 41,000 complaints, Microsoft gets more than 12,000 a month and the BBB gets around 3,500 reports about this fraud. 

"That's what makes this a very, very egregious form of a scam. So not only are they not helping you, they're downloading viruses to your computer," Schmidt said. 

Schmidt says look out for any pop-ups with flashy messages saying your computer might have a virus; odds are it doesn't.  

Schmidt says if you do see a pop up message to quickly close out of it. If that doesn't work, you should reboot your computer.  If you want to learn more on this type of scam you can find more information about the study on the BBB's webpage.

© 2017 KELOLAND TV. All Rights Reserved.
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