CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey’s office recently received multiple calls from consumers across the state reporting a technology scam.
Consumers report having received a voicemail in which a major technology company demands payment, typically between $299 and $399, for antivirus software that the consumer supposedly purchased.
Consumers who return the voicemail typically speak with an impostor who claims to represent the company. The impostor will urge the consumer to make payment via credit card, gift card or by providing their bank account information. The impostor may also seek to gain access to the consumer’s computer, if payment is refused.
“Consumers should use caution whenever they receive a suspicious call like this,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “It’s important to look for red flags and not hand money over to a scammer who can hack into computers and cause havoc.”
Other versions of the scam have involved technology company impostors demanding payment and access to the consumer’s computer to remove a virus that does not exist. Consumers who fall for the ploy receive no relief from a virus, but instead, give away cash and access to hack into their system placing sensitive data at risk.
In one recent incident, a consumer received a scam call even though they do not own a computer.
In all instances, the scammer may use a tactic called “spoofing” to mask the phone number they are calling from and make it appear to be from another source.
The Attorney General urges all consumers to visit the technology company’s legitimate website and call its legitimate phone number to confirm the validity of any such voicemail, call or email.
Consumers also should safeguard sensitive information, such as computer passwords, network information and financial information. Creating strong passwords can be a good line of defense against potential hackers.
Anyone believing they are a victim of this scam can call the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 1-800-368-8808, the Eastern Panhandle Consumer Protection Office in Martinsburg at 304-267-0239 or visit the office online atwww.wvago.gov.