NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – An old scam is making a big comeback—but with a twist.
As CBS 2’s Maurice DuBois reported, thousands are being tricked into spending big bucks for computer problems that don’t exist.
When Sandra Seip’s phone rang at 11 p.m., she couldn’t believe the person on the other end of the line was calling about her computer, saying the matter was urgent.
“(I was told) something was wrong with my computer and that I needed to get to my computer right away,” Seip said, describing what the caller told her.
The caller said she was from a “Windows server company,” and told the 72-year-old she had a big problem; but Seip didn’t buy it and hung up.
A half hour later, the woman called again. This time, it was 1 a.m. and the woman on the line wouldn’t take no for an answer. She insisted Seip’s computer needed immediate care.
“She kept insisting that someone was attempting to hack into my computer,” Seip said.
Ignoring her better judgment, Seip said she followed the woman’s instructions and logged onto a website she said would run security software to protect Seip’s personal information.
“I hung up and the computer went black,” Seip said.
It was still black the next day when Seip got the last call, and ended up forking over more than $300 to the fake technician to reclaim her computer.
“[It] made me livid,” she said.
As it turns out, the caller had been hacking Seip’s computer the whole time.
“It should always be a red flag if a tech support company is contacting you through the phone, through an unsolicited phone call, claiming there’s an issue with your computer,” said Better Business Bureau spokeswoman Caitlin Driscoll.
The rouse is called a “tech support scam,” and the BBB says the goal is to get your money and your information.
“Always remember that anytime you hand over remote access to your computer, you’re opening yourself up to identity theft and possible financial loss,” Driscoll said.
In Seip’s case, she’s back online and her credit card company is forgiving the $300 charge. But from now on, she says she’ll follow her instinct.
“When that woman called — if she had been anywhere near me, I think I would have slapped her,” Seip said.
The Federal Trade Commission issued a warning about the scam and say if you get a call like it, hang up and report it to authorities.
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