Computer Repair Scams Are on the Rise in Northeast California

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG)  |  By Better Business Bureau

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) -  Better Business Bureau (BBB) is warning consumers throughout Northeast California to be wary of an increase in computer repair scams happening throughout the region; one Sacramento resident lost $5,000 to the scam.

Computer repair scams typically begin with a phone call, pop-up advertisement, email attachment or link.

Pop-ups will include an urgent message alleging that the computer was infected with malware, and  instruct the user to contact the computer repair company in the ad. In reality, once the “computer repair company” is contacted, they are in fact the individuals responsible for installing malware on the user’s device.

Once installed, internet criminals may have access to important information on your computer, tablet, or smartphone including:

  • Tax documents you may have saved on your device.

  • Banking passwords and other financial information.

  • Access to your email and social media accounts.

  • And to any other documents or photos you have stored.

Scam artists will attempt to legitimize their offer by spoofing legitimate companies such as Microsoft, Google, or Apple. This includes using their company logo on advertisements and emails, and spoofing the company’s phone number to appear as if the call is legitimate.

In addition to gaining access to your personal information, scam artists will oftentimes collect a fee for their services either via credit or debit card, or wire transfer. If a payment is made via prepaid debit card, gift card, or wire transfer it is almost impossible to recover your funds.

How to protect yourself:

  • Do not click on unknown links or attachments. Inspect email addresses very carefully; scam artists will attempt to mimic email addresses of well-known companies, or even those of your friends and family members in order to gain your trust. Do not click on links or attachments unless you are absolutely sure you know who the sender is.

  • Do not believe everything to see or hear. If you see a pop-up on your device, do not click on it and do not follow the instructions on your screen. Instead, turn off your device and if you believe it may have been compromised, find a local reputable computer repair service with a physical location.

  • Never send money, or personal information to people you do not know. Internet criminals and scam artists will often make a request for your money via prepaid debit card, gift card, or wire transfer. Once money is sent this way, it is almost impossible to recover.

  • Report scams when you see them. Use Better Business Bureau’s online Scam Tracker at bbb.org/scamtracker to browse, and report scams in your area.

What to do if You Have Been Scammed

Call your bank or credit card issuer and report the fraud. Change your passwords. If the scammer was given remote access to your computer, it's safe to assume they had access to all of your information, so be on the safe side and change all of your passwords, including passwords to your online banking accounts, credit card accounts, email accounts, etc. Don't trust any software installed by the scammer, it may be malware.

Even if you didn’t see them download something, they still could have placed malware on your machine.

If you are computer-savvy, you may be able to remove the malware using the guidelines provided by Microsoft or by using the directions on another reputable website. However, if you’re not sure if the malware is in your computer, or your computer is slow or otherwise acting strange after the episode, assume the worst and get help. You can search for and compare Accredited computer repair businesses at bbb.org.

Not sure you are being scammed?

Use the BBB Locator at bbb.org to contact your local Better Business Bureau.