Winchester Police are warning residents to be cautious of fake anti-virus alerts on their computers. This week, two people in the city fell victim to computer virus scams. In one case, a woman lost $349.99; in another case, a man lost $249.99.
This type of scam is not new, but very dangerous and becoming more common in our area. The crooks actually infect your computer with a virus, and can cause it to lock up. Even scarier, once a scammer remotely accesses your computer, they can access your personal data, including: passwords, bank accounts, or credit card information.
How it works: Victims receive a pop-up alert message on their computer screen. It says their computer has been infected with a virus and they need to pay to have it removed. The scammer provides a number to call and asks for a check or credit card number to repair the computer remotely. The callers often have thick accents and claim they are with Microsoft.
Winchester Police warn to NEVER click on pop-up alerts! Don’t even click on the cross to delete the pop-up alert as this may result in getting more pop-ups. Instead, hit control + alt + delete to view a list of programs currently running and delete the pop-up alert from the list of running programs.
Police offer these additional warnings about computer scams:
- Microsoft will never prompt you to call an 800 number for tech support – you should always be the one to initiate a call for help.
- Use reputable pop-up blocker software to avoid pop-ups on your computer. Keep your computer updated with the latest anti-virus and anti-spyware software.
- NEVER open email attachments unless you can verify the sender and you trust them.
- NEVER click on the links in spam email.
- Scammers commonly use high pressure sales tactics to convince you to buy NOW! Practice a healthy dose of skepticism.