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The Minot Police Department has received reports of a resurfacing “Computer Repair” scam. The victims report receiving an email warning them a virus has been detected on their computer and a phone number is provided to call back. Sometimes the scammers sending this email will claim to be from Microsoft.
Once the victim calls back, the scammers have the victim log-in to their computer and into a fraudulent website where the device can be remotely accessed. The scammer then claims to discover one or more computer viruses that they can remove for a fee. They may also offer to install virus protection.
Some victims have reported being asked for banking information to debit this fee. Others have been directed to obtain prepaid gift cards and to provide the scammers the card numbers. Once those numbers are shared the scammer immediately has access to the money and it becomes next to impossible to recover. Providing banking information can result in unauthorized transactions and identity theft.
To avoid this scam, if someone believes their computer is at risk for a virus, they should take the device to a local professional and have it checked in person. Computer repair technicians can also make recommendations on anti-virus software. Also, as with any financial transactions over the phone, if a business insists on payment with prepaid gift cards, it’s best to just presume it’s a scam and then reach out to the company directly via phone numbers NOT provided by the so called “employee”.