Iowa AG warns consumers about tech support scam

By Bryan Cohen | Sep 3, 2013

DES MOINES, Iowa (Legal Newsline) - Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller warned Iowans on Friday about a scam in which criminals pose as Microsoft technical support employees and seek access to computers and personal information.

Multiple Iowans filed complaints with Miller's Consumer Protection Division about the scam.

"We're hearing from several Iowans every day reporting calls from people who claim they're Microsoft tech support employees, and also claim they're either trying to fix some sort of software problem, security problem, or are trying to sell a software license," Miller said.

As part of the operation, scammers call and email Iowans and try to convince recipients to download software. The software is actually malicious and can leave the computer vulnerable to attacks.

"(Downloading the malicious software) is a criminal's key to unlocking your computer," Miller said. "This scam enables criminals to retrieve personal information such as passwords, financial information and a treasure trove of personal data."

Criminals also used the scam to request credit card information or to direct recipients to fraudulent websites to enter credit card information or other personal information.

According to Microsoft, the company and its partners will not make unsolicited calls to charge users for computer security or software fixes. Technical support staff from Microsoft will not make unsolicited calls to seek payments for computer repairs or software. The company will, however, occasionally call users with malware-infected computers. The calls will be made by a person who can verify the recipient is a customer.

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