WEST SENECA, N.Y. (WIVB) – Consumer watchdogs are warning Internet users of a growing tech support scam that is especially aggressive.
Hackers utilize malware that takes control of your computer, and you end up paying hundreds of dollars to get control of your computer back.
Experts advise web surfers, clicking on websites you know will rarely get you into trouble, but click on an unfamiliar link, and you could find your screen locked, your keyboard is practically useless.
Janet Backus of West Seneca knows that feeling of powerlessness.
“My computer was locked, I could not do anything. I could not get back into my email, through Chrome, I could not do anything. You are, more or less, at their mercy,” she said.
It was a malicious attack of adware-an over-the-top ad for a company based in California called SupportBuddy-taking “undivided attention” to a whole new level.
Backus called the toll-free number on the screen of her computer monitor, “They said that all these files were corrupted. Right, that should have told me something right there.”
In order to fix her computer, Janet would have to shell out $300. She talked them down to $150 and they convinced her SupportBuddy was offering technical support authorized by Apple and Microsoft, which they are not.
“In order to give them this amount of money, I had to give them a payment through my debit card-stupidly I did that.”
Robert Struble is a friend of Janet’s and a former manager in the computer department at Villa Maria College, “Janet called me right after this happened, and I could tell she was in a state of panic.”
Struble helps Backus navigate the Internet, and said there is a simple way of avoiding an adware ripoff, “Unless you are very experienced, I would immediately shut down the computer-just turn it off, don’t even try a shutdown, hit the power switch.”
If you have a reputable antivirus program, you should call the antivirus software provider, and their support technicians should be able to remove the malware, as part of the service you are already paying for.
Because companies like SupportBuddy actually do something for your money, once you pay them, your chances of getting anything back are slim.
Due to complaints, and deceptive advertising, the Better Business Bureau of Central California just revoked the company’s accreditation this week.