When Pam Moore got a phone call from a man claiming to be from Microsoft last week, she knew to immediately hang up the phone.
Moore, of White Salmon, doesn’t harbor any sort of grudge against Microsoft as a company. She just recognized a few telltale signs within the first few moments of the call that revealed it as a scam.
The man on the other line had an accent and said he was from Microsoft. He went on to say he had somehow checked up on Moore’s computer and found that it had several viruses and that if she handed over her credit card information he could fix the problem.
It was at that point that Moore hung up. She had heard of this before, but not everyone is so lucky.
Another White Salmon woman, who did not want to be identified in this report, said she got a similar call recently and stayed on the phone once the caller stated that he was from Microsoft.
From there, the caller gained remote access to her computer.
“I really don’t know a lot about computers. The minute they started moving around my mouse on my computer, I started shaking and I was on the phone for three hours. They just kept going on and on,” the woman said.
After spending a substantial amount of time on the phone with the caller claiming to be from Microsoft, the woman began to realize that she was being scammed, but didn’t know what to do now that they had control of her computer.
“He asked another question or two and I thought ‘what can I do? He’s already on my computer,’” she said.
The man who said he was from Microsoft finally told the woman that he could rid her computer of the virus for $99. Reluctantly, she provided the card number, but it bounced back when the credit card company blocked the transaction from going through.
When the woman called to check on her card, the representative with the credit card company let her know that the charge was blocked because the company trying to access it was not reputable.
The woman destroyed her old credit card account and opened a new account shortly after.
“That’s really where the whole thing was stopped,” she said.
But Holly Cate, of Holly Cate Consulting in White Salmon and Hood River, said she gets calls from people who have fallen victim to this type of scam and that repair has to go beyond changing bank and credit card information.
“Usually when someone has given out their credit card information and allowed the scammer into their computer it is in their best interest to also have a reputable company go through that machine and make sure it’s secure and stable,” Cate said. “They need somebody who knows how to check the system and insure it’s not continuing to be compromised.”
If the computer isn’t checked, Cate said the scammer can access the information on that machine whenever they want to. She also said there is another virus floating around that pops up on a user’s computer screen alerting them that the FBI is demanding money of them.
The best thing, she says, is to learn to recognize when a scammer is trying to strike.
“I tell clients unless you know the person and have met them face-to-face or you call them and ask them to help you absolutely do not let them remote into the computer,” Cate said.