common / Scam Watch

Computer Repair Scams Continue to Target Ohioans

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine today warned Ohioans to beware of computer repair scams, where callers tell consumers their computers are infected with a virus and falsely claim they will fix the problem.

The warning comes at the start of National Cyber Security Awareness Month (October).

The Ohio Attorney General’s Office has received more than 50 calls about computer scams in the last month. Some consumers have lost more than $100 or experienced hundreds or thousands of dollars in unauthorized credit card charges due to the scam.

“It has never been more important for all Ohioans to put cybersecurity tips to use,” Attorney General DeWine said. “We need to protect our electronic devices as we would our own wallets and purses. Also, if you get an unexpected call from someone who wants to help you clear a virus on your computer, don’t respond. It’s probably a scam.”

The computer repair scam generally begins with a phone call. The caller states he is affiliated with a well-known software company and says there is a problem with the consumer’s computer. The caller gives the consumer several prompts to check for a virus. Ultimately, the caller asks the consumer for remote access to the computer or for payment information so that the caller can correct the problem.

Consumers who follow the instructions put their personal information at risk. Scammers may install malware to gain access to consumers’ passwords and other personal information, which could lead to identity theft. They also may rack up unauthorized charges on the consumer’s credit card.

Consumers can help protect themselves by following these tips:

Don’t trust a caller who says your computer has a virus.
Don’t give someone remote access to your electronic devices.
If you fall for a computer repair scam, contact a trustworthy, local tech expert.
Dispute unauthorized credit card charges with your credit card provider.
Set strong passwords with eight or more characters and a combination of numbers, letters, and symbols, and don’t share passwords with anyone.
Keep operating systems, Internet browsers, and other critical software optimized by installing updates.
Limit the amount of personal information you share online, and use privacy settings to avoid sharing information widely.
The Ohio Attorney General’s Office is a partner in the Department of Homeland Security’s Stop. Think. Connect. Campaign, which has launched a public awareness effort this month as part of National Cyber Security Awareness Month.

During the month of October, staff members from the Ohio Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Section will present cybersecurity presentations throughout the state, primarily to high school and junior high school students.

Organizations wishing to schedule a consumer protection presentation should contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at 800-282-0515 or www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov.-Posted 10.1, 12:26 pm

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