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Ask Asa: Beware Of Computer Scammers That Call Your Home Directly

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Microsoft has safe ways to ensure that your computer is protected. (Credit: CBS 2)

Microsoft has safe ways to ensure that your computer is protected. (Credit: CBS 2)

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - A panicky phone call from someone claiming to help solve your computer problems could wind up being more of a problem than a solution.

“I was duped!” Robin from Queens admitted to CBS 2’s consumer reporter Asa Aarons.

Robin logged on, picked up the phone and after that … well, she’s too embarrassed to openly talk about it. So she asked CBS 2 to conceal her identity.

A company with a name similar to Microsoft authoritatively told her that malware had infected her computer.

“I immediately froze with panic, and I agreed to everything that they had asked me to do at that point,” Robin explained.

They told her to authorize a $230 charge on her credit card, and then download anti-virus software from a special site.

“I gave them my credit-card number and full access to my computer,” Robin said. “Do not do it.”

Veteran Cyber Forensics Investigator Phillip Rosenthal said that Robin is one of thousands of victims of this impostor scam, and thieves are saturating the area with calls.

“These people tried to make me one of their victims,” Rosenthal said. “I sure did [get one of the calls].”

Rosenthal did not cooperate and turned the callers into the authorities, which is what you should do if approached. And remember that no matter what they say, the call is bogus.

“I’ve been in the computer industry for over 35 years,” Rosenthal said. “I have never received a phone call from Microsoft.”

If you’ve already fallen for the scam, after cancelling the charges there is one thorough — if draconian — measure to take.

“Immediately disconnect that computer,” Rosenthal said. “Take it to a computer-repair place and have them completely wipe the hard drive and re-install everything from scratch.”

Microsoft assures that it will not contact customers by phone that way. In response to this and other scams, the company has produced a kit called Microsoft Security Essentials. It’s on their website for free, and will help protect you from scams and malware.

Have you been the victim of one of these scams? Let us know in the comments section below…

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