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Fox Valley woman falls victim to tech support scam

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NEENAH, WI (WTAQ) - While it's been around for awhile, tech support scams keep popping up all the time.

Last week, Janice Swanek of Neenah became victimized after getting a call from someone claiming to be from Microsoft's Technical Department saying her computer was infected with a virus.

"They had been getting alerts stating that I was having error messages indicating infected files," says Swanek. "I start asking questions, and they say when you have Microsoft operating systems it is constantly connection to our tech department and that they are monitoring for such things."

Swanek details that the person gave her a fake name, along with a badge number. They even gained access to her computer and ran scans that found thousands of files that apparently were infected with viruses.

"He had me do a couple things on my computer that got to the point where I could end up trusting him," Swanek said. "And I shouldn't have."

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection says allowing these scammers access to your computer, tax information, medical records, banking information and other personal info including Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and banking and routing account numbers all become vulnerable.

"The caller convinced me I needed more anti-viral protection on my computer than I had," said Swanek. "I ended up purchasing from them a senior subscription for up to 5 computers for $199. Yes, indeed they had my credit card number."

These foreign fraudsters, according to Swanek, then could run a scan showing that the malicious software program they downloaded worked. She later called a business and found that the Microsoft Security Essentials she paid money for is actually a free program. 

"So that confirmed to me that I had been scammed," Swanek says.

Janice Swanek told this story to WTAQ in order to demonstrate that anyone can become a victim of a scam, especially if it involves your computer.

Wisconsin DATCP officials say if you receive one of these tech support phone calls, simply hang up. If you fear that your system may actually be infected with a virus, contact a trusted local tech support company instead.

You can get more information, or if you want to file a complaint, visit the Consumer Protection Bureau's website here. You can also call the Consumer Information Hotline at (800) 422-7128.

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