Thieves have a number of ways to gain access to your computer and steal your valuable information. But they've learned sometimes it's easier to just ask than try to hack their way in. We have a look at how it works in a Contact 13 consumer alert.
"All of a sudden this page popped up," says Kay Garnish.
She was doing some work online when she was suddenly rerouted. She says a chat box popped up, and a service tech was reaching out.
"He told me that I had viruses on my computer and my firewall wasn't working, and that he could fix it all," Garnish says.
Garnish knew if she had a virus, she wanted it fixed right away. And this guy was promising to clean her computer and give a year of protective service for $269. So Garnish agreed to the charges and gave him access to her computer.
"As soon as I finished up with them I thought, I need to double check this," Garnish says.
Garnish called a friend and was told it was all a scam.
That's when she reached out to Contact 13. We did some research and learned how it works.
"They call it a drive-by infection page," says IT Security Expert Curt Miller with Anexeon.
He says hackers lure you with a fake site that many times will freeze your browser, convincing you there's a problem.
"The best thing to do is try to close the webpage on your browser completely, and if you can't, shut the computer off," Miller says.
Miller says there's no way for someone to detect a virus on your computer through the internet, without you giving them control. And once you give them access...
"They typically login and install some sort of spyware," Miller says.
Then they're able to steal your personal and financial information. Garnish had a friend check her computer, and now she's fighting the charges with her credit card company.
"Kind of dumb for letting myself be misled... should've known better," Garnish says.
So here's the Contact 13 bottom line. If you need your computer fixed, your best bet is to do business with someone you can talk to face to face. And be sure to protect your device. There's plenty of free anti-virus software available online.