Springfield computer shops warn of pop-up ‘fake tech support’ scams and viruses

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) – Cybersecurity is a hot topic these days, and many tech experts say there are thousands of new viruses making the rounds each day.

Local computer shops say some of the most common threats are pop-ups claiming to help protect you from attacks.

Pop-ups are common for computer users while surfing the internet or checking emails, but cybersecurity experts say some of those pop-ups are scams trying to get you to install fake malware.

”The premise behind it is that they are trying to scam you out of your money by fixing a problem that doesn’t exist,” Springfield PC Pros owner Timothy Gleaves said.

It’s basically a virus against a fake virus. Gleaves calls it the “fake tech support scam.”

”It will say ‘Warning, Danger, Danger,” he described. “It may even have a voice that talks to you. It may play music. It may do whatever it can to freak you out as much as possible. But it’s going to ‘Danger, Danger, Danger’ your computer [and say it] has errors and problems and [tell you to] call Microsoft support Hotline at 1-800 blah-blah-blah-blah.”

Gleaves said you should never call that number.

”They’ll say, ‘Well, we can fix all this for you for $399 or $500 or $1,000 or whatever they want to charge you.’”

He says there is one major tell tale sign it’s a scam.

“What a lot of people don’t realize is that tech support companies like Microsoft, they’ll never reach out to you to tell you about a problem with your computer,” Gleaves said.

If you do get hit by one of these scams, he said there is one quick simple way to prevent it and stop it.

“If you can’t get out of it, really the best thing to do would be to just press and hold the power button on your computer for 10 seconds and just forcefully turn it off,” Gleaves said. “Then turn it back on. Most of the time, that’s all it takes to to just kind of reset everything.”

He handles all sorts of repairs at his shop, and from time to time he helps customers clean up their computers after these types of scams.

”Once the scammers have access to your computer, there’s no telling what they can do,” he said. “They can install software in the background, they can steal your files, they can even install ransomware and have it triggered later on.”

If it ever happens to you, here is his best advice for the future:

”Just be mindful of where you go moving forward,” he said. “Don’t go back to the same website, because the chances are you’ll probably find yourself right back in the same boat.”

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