A Fact Finders Consumer Alert --- beware of an internet scam where you get a phone call offering improved speed and software for your computer.
It's a nation-wide scam where a caller says you can improve your internet performance and protect against viruses for a $20 fee.
One area man fell for the scam and it cost him more than he bargained for.
Eric Exline says his home computer was a little sluggish, so the telephone scammers found an ideal victim.
“The gentleman said he was with Microsoft tech support and asked if we had been having trouble with our computer,” Exline said.
Exline didn't know his problem had already been solved so he agreed to a life time service and protection program for $20.
He said the caller was very convincing during the two hour call.
“They put a lot of work into it,” Exline said. “All the key words were being thrown out, we're with Microsoft and it's your software and if your computer is over five years old and your warranty on your software has run out and would you like to renew?”
The next day, Exline's bank account was short more than $750.
Officer Greg Becker works the front desk at the Council Cluffs Police Department. He's had quite a few people come in and tell him about the scam.
“The money initially got taken out of here, Council Bluffs, to a place in Denver, Colorado and then from there it got shipped over to India,” he said.
“One they're out the money...two the computer was never fixed.”
And it seems like the scammers are calling just about everybody. Officer Becker says his house received a call. He recognized it as a possible scam. Officer Becker says if we receive a call like this, the best thing to do it to simply hang up.
Eric Exline knows his chances of getting his money back is slim, but he want's others to be aware.
“A true diagnostic and repair place, you're going to have to call them, they're not going to call you,” he said. “And if you do any transactions use a credit card because you have a time to contest those charges.”
A few other suggestions on potential phone scams --- ask the caller to send literature in the mail so you can look it over. Few scammers will do so.
A second option; ask for a phone number where you can call them. Scammers usually hang up or say they are unable to provide a return number.
Another red flag, most cases scam artists ask for a debit card and not a credit card for payment so transactions cannot be traced.
If your computer does need some work, find a local reputable service provider and conduct business face to face.