HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The last thing you want is a computer virus. Now, scam artists are playing to that. They're hoping your desire to protect your computer will actually help them gain access to your sensitive data.
Jane Uyehara-Lock received a call from a stranger, claiming that her computer was infected with a virus and was spreading that virus to others.
"She said she's with 24-7 PC Care, and that she's the president of this company, and that if I don't do anything about this, that my computer will stop working," Uyehara-Lock said.
Already skeptical, she kept listening.
"She pretty authoritatively told me I want you to turn on your computer and follow my instructions," Uyehara-Lock said. "At that point, I got suspicious."
The neuropathologist got her computer scientist husband on the phone and they warded off the suspected scam artist.
"She got upset and told me you folks are idiots and hung up on us," Uyehara-Lock said.
The Better Business Bureau of Hawaii has received several hundred calls over the past few months from consumers describing the same phishing scam. The agency says if the mysterious caller manages to remotely gain access to your computer, he or she can upload a virus that searches out the web sites you visit and the passwords you use.
"If you do online banking for example, well, you might give access to that," Timothy Caminos, BBB Hawaii, said. "If there's a site where you have to enter your social security number, date of birth, they're going to have access to that."
Caminos says the scammer will seem helpful and attempt to gain credibility.
"They'll ask the consumer to open certain files on the computer, like an error log for example," he said. "Maybe someone that's not as tech-savvy may believe that the errors they see there are something critical that they need to have addressed at that moment."
Callers may also say they're from trusted companies or agencies, such as Microsoft, Google, even from state government.
"At no time will the Hawaii state government or Google call you and tell you that there's a virus on your computer and you need to pay for them to fix it," Caminos said.
A good rule of thumb...
"If any call comes to you unsolicited, right there that's a flag to just hang up the phone," Caminos said.