phone rings. The voice on the other line informs you
that your PC is infected with a virus that, fortunately
for you, the callerís well-known company can
eliminate. Hmm, you think, thatís odd, since our
family only uses Macs.
you hang up and thatís the end of the story. But many
people getting similar calls ended up falling for
tech-support scams, handing over remote access to their
computers and getting charged hundreds of dollars. This
all-too-common problem led a federal court recently to
fine operators of several international tech-support
schemes more than $5.1 million.
or not the fines ever get collected, the action shines a
light on why consumers must be careful about who they
allow to work on their computers.
tech-support professionals whoíve earned high marks
from Angieís List members warn that you should never
give anyone you donít know access to your computer.
Reputable tech-company workers donít operate through
unsolicited phone calls, they say, so your best move is
to hang up.
wary in other ways, too, experts advise. Donít click
on online ads or pop-ups that claim your computer is
infected and should be scanned. Be leery of ads
promising services to speed up your computer.
youíre wondering whether a computer service is worth
considering or an email link worth opening, consider who
initiated the communication. If it wasnít you, donít
tips for reducing the odds of your computer being
back up your data. After backup, disconnect the storage
device from your computer. Another option is to pay an
online-based company to conduct off-site backups.
caution before clicking on links from emails. Be
especially wary when you havenít initiated a request.
Be careful about sites offering free applications, games
and tools. Many are good, but some contain malware.
Before downloading, search online to see what others
have to say about whatever youíre considering
you download and install anything, donít mindlessly
check "agree," "next" and
"continue." Look carefully for boxes that are
pre-checked; be sure you know what youíre getting
web addresses. The first few online search results may
not be what you think they are. Before clicking a link,
look at the website address to which it will send you.
If the address seems odd, carefully consider before
what software your computer uses and keep it updated. A
dated program may have trouble interfacing with
complementary programs. Also, many updates are
if your computer has a virus? Signs include slow
performance, inability to launch programs or unfamiliar
programs launching independently.
seeking help for computer issues, consider the services
of a reputable technician. Check the companyís
reputation on a trusted online review site. Ask
questions so youíre clear about credentials and
training, if service can be done in your home or office,
and how long an expected repair could take.
ask if charges are by the hour or the project. In the
past year, Angieís List members reported paying $50 to
$260 to have top-rated computer-service providers remove
viruses and malware.