With temperatures rising in Mississippi, the weather isn’t the only thing heating up in our state. BBB serving Mississippi has had numerous calls about 2 scams in particular that consumers have been inquiring about. One involves a well know sweepstakes and the other a top software company. BBB serving Mississippi is issuing a warning about these two scams to help prevent consumers from becoming victims.
Scammers are using Publishers Clearing House and Microsoft to trick consumers into giving them money, stealing their identity, or infecting their computer with a virus. The caller offers to solve a computer problem or sell a software license, all in an effort to gain remote control access to the consumer’s computer. One of the consumers contacted is a BBB employee who received a phone call from a “Microsoft employee” who told them they ‘detected’ a virus on her computer. “The man identified himself as being from Microsoft support and said he found that my computer had a virus.” He directed her to go to her computer and proceeded to give her directions to “get rid of the virus” along with giving him her credit card information to bill her.” The consumer then contacted Microsoft and confirmed the phone call was a scam. According to Microsoft, consumers are reminded they will not make unsolicited phone calls to help you with your computer.
With Publishers Clearing House announcing their grand prize winner on June 30, 2013, many scammers are using the opportuning to contact consumers via mail, email, and phone telling them they have won a prize. The scam goes as follows: A caller tells the person answering the phone that he/she has won a prize from Publisher's Clearing House, but first, the person must pay a fee to retrieve the money they have allegedly won.
Publishers Clearing House awards its prizes by a personal visit to the winners' homes and does not charge winners to collect their prize. What to do: If you receive any phone calls or emails from Publishers Clearing House indicating you have won a prize and need to send money ... don't do it! You should never send money to collect any prize winning!
Contact Publishers Clearing House directly for information at 1-800-459-4724, Monday - Friday 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. EST or visit their website at www.pch.com.
“Consumers should always ask questions,” said John O’Hara, BBB President/CEO. “You should always verify who you are giving your information to and ask for a call back number. Often when you start asking questions you may get hung up on.” Giving access to your computer without full knowledge of who you’re dealing with can open up a host of identity theft issues, and expose personal financial information as well. Cybercriminals work to gain a victim’s trust and once they have it they can do one or more of the following:
· Trick people into installing malicious software on their computer.
· Take control of a victim’s computer remotely and adjust settings in order to leave the computer vulnerable.
· Request credit card information so that cybercriminals can bill for the phony services.
BBB advises consumers follow these tips to protect themselves from scammers attempting to access their computer:
Go through your service provider directly. If you are concerned your computer may be exposed to viruses other security threats, contact your service provider directly. Some providers offer free tools that can help detect and remove viruses.
Install virus detection. To help protect your computer from viruses make sure you have virus detection software installed on your computer. This software can also help identify if a virus appears on your computer.
Don’t trust odd calls. Never give out personal information, over the phone, to someone you don’t know. Regardless of the claims made by a caller, if you didn’t make the call yourself and trust the person on the other end of the phone – don’t share your personal information!