Would you pay someone $1,200 to fix your printer? Your answer is likely a resounding “No,” but you might be surprised by how easy it is for internet criminals to swindle you into handing over your money, personal information, or both. A woman in Shoreline, Washington contacted who she believed to be Hewlitt-Packard (HP) after her printer began to malfunction. The representative helped the woman fix her printer with ease, but then began to ask questions about her operating system. “He showed me some of my systems files, where a bunch of kernel files were reported as stopped. He pointed out that it appeared that many drivers were no longer updating,” the victim reported to BBB Scam Tracker. The representative said he was from Global Protek, a company allegedly based in Elk Grove, California. He then proceeded to gain access to the victim’s computer, and charged her over $1,200 for “computer repair services” on both of her computers - including a new Microsoft Office Suite. After the phone call was over, the woman became suspicious and contacted Microsoft directly. “I contacted Microsoft to verify the validity of the Office 2016 software, they informed me the product key numbers Protek used were fraudulent. I then signed on for Microsoft tech report ($149 for a year) and they scanned both my laptop and desktop, and found them full of malware,” she added. With Microsoft’s help, it took the woman four days to repair the damage done to her computer, but the funds she paid the internet criminals were untraceable and have not been recovered. In addition to the Scam Tracker report, Global Protek has received one negative review; they have an ‘F’ rating with BBB. Unfortunately scams such as this one happen every day, and they are more common than you might think. Internet criminals will try to earn your trust in various ways, such as fixing your printer, before inevitably taking your money or personal information. So - what can you do to protect yourself? 1. Never send money or personal information to people you do not know. Especially via wire transfer, gift card, or prepaid debit card. \u20282. Do not believe everything you see or hear. Internet criminals will try to spoof virtually any charity, business, government agency, and yes - even your relatives, all in an attempt to gain your trust. \u20283. Verify the business, and their contact information on bbb.org. If you can’t find the business you are looking for, use the BBB Locator and contact your local Better Business Bureau. Learn more about tech support scams, and report them at bbb.org/scamtracker.