Bill Howes, Associate Editor
On the afternoon of January 3rd, the Chariton Newspaper was alerted by Lucas County resident, Rose Marie Briggs, who lives near Williamson, about computer scammers who contacted some local residents including herself. Briggs said the goal of the man contacting her and others was to get on their computer and take all the personal information they have including bank account numbers, passwords and ID numbers.
Briggs said a man named Brian Hogg called on this Friday afternoon and said he was from Windows Service Center. He didn't say where the company was located but gave her a call back number, which was 206-424-8913.
Briggs said the man had a foreign accent and she could barely understand him on the phone. "He said to me that he had been getting messages from my computer saying it was infected. He wanted me to turn on my computer and he said he would walk me through step by step to get it cleaned up," she said.
Briggs said she wasn't home at the time he called but that she was visiting her mother's nearby. The number he called was her cell phone. "It used to be my home phone number, but it's now my cell phone number and it's the only phone number I have," she said.
Since she was at her mother's, Briggs asked the man if there was any way she could call him back. He said, "Oh yes" and gave his number," Briggs said.
Briggs told the newspaper that when she got home she didn't call the man back but suspected it was a scam and called PC Repair Services in Chariton about it. "They said that this is a scam. The staff members at PC Repair Services told me that when the man calling is trying to tell you what to do, that he's actually taking all of your personal information including bank account number, passwords and ID numbers from your computer," she said.
After talking with Briggs, the newspaper contacted PC Repair Services in Chariton. They confirmed to the newspaper as well that the outfit that contacted Briggs and others is a scam. A staff member at PC Repair Services stressed to the newspaper for people to not ever let anyone they don't know or who calls them on the phone to have control of their computer. They said that if someone like that calls, to just hang up on them immediately.
The staff at PC Repair Services also said that legitimate outfits like Microsoft and Windows don't ever call customers to tell them their computers have problems. They said that that's what a scammer does when they're just phishing or trying for a way to get on your computer. Phishing is the act of attempting to acquire information such as user names, passwords and credit card details by masquerading as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication.
The staff also said that usually when someone conducting a scam gets on your computer, that they're not cleaning it up but rather that they're installing a virus instead. They'll then tell you that they see a virus on your computer and that they'll take it off for a fee. But instead they just make the problem worse.