Beware of scammers

PUTNEY — I'm basically a trusting person. I'm also over 70 and have limited computer savvy.

The other day I received a very polished phone call from a “technical assistant for Windows representing www.windowscare.net” (it's a real website). He was initiating the call “because of an abnormally large number of infections and viruses that were on my computer.”

My “license key,” he said, had expired, my antivirus program was therefore not working, and I needed a new key. His voice was friendly, helpful, and patient. His accent was Indian, and I stayed in the conversation far too long.

Fortunately, I contacted my local technical support person before I signed on to buy a new “license key.” I did not call the scammers back, but they did call me back, not once but twice, warning that my computer could crash.

I'd like to share some advice with other computer users who might be similarly vulnerable to such a scam:

1. Computer companies will never initiate a call to you.

2. Never allow someone to download anything onto your computer.

3. Never give anyone access to your computer (for instance, by downloading “join me,” or any other remote-access program).

4. There is such a thing as a “license key,” but it is very unlikely that a company would initiate a call over one expiring.

5. If you do get sucked into the scam, alert your credit card companies and bank immediately. Then get your technical support person to check out your computer and confirm that it is in good shape.

6. Run a complete rootkit and boot-time virus scan like Avast Pro. It is worth paying for software that really protects you.

Good luck!

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