Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman is alerting people in Colorado to be on the lookout for any telephone calls for tech support where the caller ID on your phones shows "Colorado State Gov't" with a phone number 800-222-4444. "These phone calls are obviously false," said Coffman. "No one in state government knows whether your computer is affected by a virus, and we certainly aren't going to call you to get you to pay us to fix your computer."
The Attorney General has previously alerted Colorado consumers to be wary of any phone call or a pop-up message on your computer warning that "Your computer may have been infected with a virus ..."
The caller offers to assist in removing any virus supposedly infecting your computer, or the message invites you to visit a website or call a number for assistance. Unless you simply hang up the phone or quickly delete the message, you are about to become the next victim of the epidemic of technical support scams.
If you further engage with these scammers, you may unknowingly give them remote access to your computer where they can secretly install software that will track your computer keystrokes (including to online accounts and passwords), or steal personal and financial information from your computer.
Here are a few basic things you should know and some tips for avoiding tech support scams:
- The minute a stranger calls or emails you, or a pop-up message appears on your computer with a "WARNING!" about a virus detected on your computer you should know that it is a lie. Large computer or software companies - including companies that provide legitimate security and anti-virus software - have no way of knowing whether your particular computer has been infected. They only send out notices or software updates when they identify a particular cyber threat affecting the whole market.
- Legitimate companies will NEVER call you out of the blue or send you a pop-up message with claims that they have detected a virus or other problem with your computer.
- If you receive a call from someone who offers technical support, or claims your computer has been hacked or infected with a virus, hang up immediately. Delete any pop-up messages without responding.
- NEVER allow a stranger to gain remote access to your computer--for any reason. Once they are inside, they can steal personal or financial information or install their own virus to steal this information for them.
- If you suspect that you actually have a virus or other problem with your computer, contact the help number that comes from the manufacturer or contact a local computer repair company.
- Keep all security software installed on your computer up-to-date and turned on.
- Make sure your device's firewall and pop-up blocker are turned on. This will help prevent intrusions and unsafe pop-ups.
If you don't have a regular computer service company, you can research local computer service companies with rating agencies such as the Better Business Bureau.
If you have been victimized by a tech support or other scam, or wish to report suspicious activity, you can file a report online at http://www.stopfraudcolorado.gov/about-consumer-protection/report-fraud. The Attorney General's Office will NOT call you from 1-800-222-4444, but you can directly call that number to file a report.