On Your Side Alert: Warning about threatening computer messages - CBS46 News

On Your Side Alert: Warning about threatening computer messages

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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -

There is another threat for computer users to worry about. Viewers report getting alarming messages, alerting them that their information would be deleted if they didn't call a number immediately. Sounds scary but is it true? 

If the message pops up on your computer screen, it would probably make you a bit nervous. It's a warning claiming to be from Microsoft Support. It threatens your hard drive will be deleted unless you call tech support right away. "Clearly people are falling for this because if they weren't, the bad guys wouldn't keep doing this kind of stuff," says Kevin Boynton with the Computer Doctor of Richmond.

He says he's seen it before. Boynton says don't believe the hype -- it's all a scare tactic. "To get you to react real quick without really thinking it through, you see oh my gosh, something is wrong. I am going to call for instance, this says Microsoft support. That's very generic, any computer IT company that works with PCs is Microsoft support one way or the other, Boynton says.

There are a number of ways you could get the pop-up. Maybe you clicked a malicious link or ended up on a compromised site. Regardless, of you how it gets to your computer, the goal is not to necessarily infect your machine but to get your money.

"If you have called and if and you have let someone remote in your computer, you may want to see about getting your money back if you paid anything, because you probably paid for nothing," he says.

Boynton says these bogus tech support companies will get you to give up access to your computer which could pose other safety issues like id theft. "The most important thing is don't call. Don't ever call one of these things because it is always going to be a scam. If you are not sure, call a legitimate local computer IT company," Boynton explains. 

Another tip, if you see this, just close out the browser and reboot your computer. Boynton also advises clearing your browser history and running your anti-virus just to be safe.

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Here is a link to Microsoft's page with tips on how to avoid technical support scams. And here's a link to a software review company that specializes in information security and identity theft protection.

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