Tech scammers have no way of knowing about your computer

CHICO — Modern technology is a marvel that still amazes me to this day.

I grew up using dial-up internet and blowing on plastic video game cartridges and now I have Final Fantasy 6 on my smartphone so I can replay it while waiting in a doctor’s office between sending text messages to a friend in Germany. It’s truly incredible.

That said, one of humanity’s greatest achievements is also one of its greatest headaches. Phones don’t last more than a few years, computers crash and internet speeds slow down over time.

Scammers are acutely aware of this and tend to prey on those who aren’t as tech-savvy in various forms like phone calls or email.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, tech scammers will call or send online pop-up ads saying that an issue has been detected on your computer or that something is slowing it down. And lucky for you, they can fix the problem immediately after you pay them.

The pop-up warnings are especially dubious as they can be mocked up to look like an actual message from your operating system, similar to ones you’ve seen dozens of times already.

“It might look like an error message from your operating system or antivirus software, and it might use logos from trusted companies or websites,” reads a warning from the FTC’s website. “The message in the window warns of a security issue on your computer and tells you to call a phone number to get help.”

Phone calls and emails can also send out these kinds of warnings. The fact of the matter is that while the things we do online can certainly be public to a great extent, no random person or bot on the internet will be able to see inside your computer or phone’s hardware to know that there’s a problem.

If you’re having computer troubles, it’s best to take it to a local store that specializes in fixing the tech. Don’t trust pop-ups and sketchy phone calls and certainly don’t give anyone money to fix your computer that you haven’t solicited yourself.

Scam of the Week generally runs every Tuesday. Readers are welcome to contact reporter Jake Hutchison to report scams and potential scams they have come in contact with by calling 828-1329 or via email at [email protected].