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Media > Newsletters > Consumer Advocate > May 2015 > Computer Repair Scammers Prey on Unsuspecting Victims

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Computer Repair Scammers Prey on Unsuspecting Victims

Reports to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office suggest that many Ohioans have been targeted by the “computer repair” scam in recent months.
In this scam, official-sounding “technical support representatives” typically call unsuspecting consumers, pretending to represent major computer manufacturers or antivirus vendors. The caller then claims that the consumer’s computer has been infected by a virus or malware.
Ultimately, the scammers will request remote access into the computer supposedly to install antivirus software to fix the problem. Remote access allows an outside party to access a computer in another location. After claiming to have resolved the issue, the scammer may request financial information, such as a credit card number, for payment. In some cases, the scammers also request payment by prepaid money card or wire transfer. (To protect yourself, never provide personal information or payment to someone who has contacted you unexpectedly.)
Consumers who fall for this scam face several potential problems. First, they likely will have compromised their credit card information. Second, they may have unknowingly allowed the caller to access personal information stored on their computer, such as Social Security numbers, bank account numbers, and usernames and passwords for online accounts. By revealing this information, the consumer may be at a higher risk for identity theft.  
Moreover, the scam artist likely installed malware onto the victim’s computer, which could be used to lock the computer and hold the computer for ransom. This tactic plays on the computer user’s fear of losing data. Victims may be tempted to pay the ransom to prevent the loss or theft of valuable or sentimental information, but they should not provide any payment. Instead, they should take the computer to a reputable computer repair store for help.
If you receive a computer repair scam call, never provide personal information or allow the caller access to your device. The best thing to do is to hang up the phone immediately. Make sure to use current and effective security software. A free list of products that check for viruses and malware is at
If you think you may have fallen victim to a computer repair scam, contact your credit card company or bank right away to have the charges reversed and your accounts protected. Also, change the passwords to your online accounts immediately.
Report these and other potential scams to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office by calling 800-282-0515, or visiting