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Tech support scam hits area
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 The Federal Trade Commission offers the following advise to avoid tech support scams:

• Don’t give control of your computer to someone who says they need to activate software. Instead, look carefully at the software instructions to learn how to activate the software yourself.

• Don’t give control of your computer to someone who calls you out of the blue claiming to be from tech support. Instead, hang up and call the company at a number you know to be correct.

• Never provide your credit card information, financial information, or passwords to someone who claims to be from tech support.

• Learn how to protect your computer from malware.

What if you think you might be a victim of one of these tech support scams?

• If you paid for bogus tech support services or software with a credit card, then call your credit card company to reverse the charges.

• If you think someone may have accessed your personal or financial information, then learn more about how to lower your risk for identity theft.

• Get rid of malware that the fraudsters may have installed. Download legitimate security software and delete anything that it finds as a problem.

• Change any passwords that you gave out. If you use the same passwords for other accounts, then change those too.

• If you think you may be a victim of a tech support scam, let officials know.

 In this computer-reliant age, it is upsetting to receive an unexpected phone call claiming that one’s PC has been infected with viruses.

However, with most of these calls, there is a catch. The caller claims to be from Microsoft or some other computer maker and says he or she can clean the machine for a hefty fee. What’s worse is that the caller is almost certainly a fake — a bad guy who pretends to be legitimate.

“The irony here is that the scam artist is actually trying to install a virus on your computer to give them access to all your files and your personal information that is in them,” said Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt. “The scammer may also be trying to hack into your machine to send out spam emails from your account.”

This scam has reached Barton County and follows a well-known pattern. 

According to information from the Kansas Attorney General’s Office, a phone call comes in from a blocked or international number, and the caller urgently claims to be a Microsoft-certified tech agent who has detected viruses or malware on your Windows PC that must be fixed right away.

These callers use scare tactics such as telling you to check the call recipient to check their Event Viewer to reveal a bunch of “errors” or even ask to take over your PC remotely to reveal more so-called problems. 

And, inevitably, they demand payment via credit card or online payment system, usually to the tune of several hundred dollars, to clean your PC. If one resists, they often get angry or even threaten to destroy data on your computer.

“What’s really alarming is that this type of scam shows no signs of slowing down,” a statement from Microsoft said. “Increasingly, we hear via our front-line support team, and even from friends and family, that these scammers are getting bolder, targeting not only individuals but also businesses. 

“Customers will never receive a call from Microsoft or our partners asking for a credit card number to charge for computer fixes,” the statement reads. “Cybercriminals often use the names of well-known companies, like Microsoft, to convince people their services are legitimate. Our guidance for customers is to never provide your personal information to unsolicited callers and/or e-mailers.”

The computer company said customers should immediately report any information about the caller to their local authorities and can also alert Microsoft through the Report a Scam form. If customers need help with Microsoft devices or services, they can contact  Microsoft Customer Service and Support directly.  

More information on how to protect yourself from scams is available on the Kansas Attorney General’s consumer protection website at or by calling the consumer protection hotline at 800-432-2310.