New computer scam hitting the region is easy to fall for
LEWISTON, ID —
You turn on your computer, and a blaring voice comes through the speaker and says it’s been infected with a virus. Everything on your computer screen is frozen, so what do you do? One Lewiston woman learned the hard way that this is a scam.
Lou Wade hadn’t used her computer in a few weeks…when she decided to fire it up.
"I turned it on and there was this glaring loud woman's voice saying, your computer has been hacked, it's in jeopardy,” said Lou.
She didn’t know what to do. She couldn’t exit out of the boxes saying she had a virus, and the voice kept repeating.
"So I looked at these little boxes and it said, you know, you have a virus, you've been hacked, it's serious and you need to call this 800 number,” said Lou.
With no other plausible option, she called the 800-number. The person said they were with Microsoft and that they would walk her through the process of regaining control of her computer.
"And then he would draw little red circles around where I was supposed to click and then do this, and we were on there for a long time,” said Lou.
Lou spent a couple hours trying on the phone with this man until he said he needed to work independently and he’d call her back later.
"And in the meantime... something said call Teresa,” said Lou.
Teresa is an Associate Professor at LCSC, and she works in IT.
"And she says Lou, you just let a thief in your house... I'll be right there,” said Lou.
Teresa asked not to show her face, because of the nature of her work.
"Sometimes I go out and I assist people in recon,” said Teresa.
She said this type of situation is common, and confusing for users.
"You click on it, you get a virus, you don't click on it, you still get a virus,” said Teresa. “So how do you know what's real.?"
Teresa said that since Lou hadn’t used her computer in a while, her anti-virus software was out of date, which allowed scammers to access her computer. And she says this can cause astronomical affects for the user.
"Sometimes they try and get, you know, a few hundred dollars out of you, sometimes they just infect your machine and then that way they have a whole bunch of bots which they sell to someone else,” said Teresa.
She explained, the only way Lou would have been able to avoid allowing them to take control of her computer was by immediately shutting it off.
"You unplug your computer, you take the internet whether it's wired or wireless and then you can go back into your computer and restore it without losing information,” said Teresa.
Teresa said it’s crucial to keep your computers anti-virus software up-to-date, and if a number pops up, never just call, do your own research. And as for Lou, she did give the scammers her credit card information, but as soon as she realized it was a scam, she had all her information changed. She luckily didn’t lose a penny.