ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — Cybercrime was up in 2022, the Federal Bureau of Investigation(FBI) reported cybertheft had increased by 49% compared to 2021. That crime doesn’t stop in Roanoke Valley. One computer expert in the area spoke with WFXR saying the number of those victimized by computer scams at his business has risen.
“I’ve never seen it like this. It’s bad and I just want to spread the word,” said Chris Duncan, president and owner of Vinton Computer and Brambleton Computer. He says the amount of people coming in about a scam occurs almost every day.
The expert said in the past couple of weeks, he’s seen an uptick in the number of customers complaining of phishing scams. In the past three weeks, he said two of his customers lost over $100,000.
“Usually they come out with some kind of money. Sometimes it’s $500, sometimes it’s $1,000 and the largest I’ve seen is $308,000,” the business owner said.
Duncan says the scams come in the forms of email, Facebook, or even page popups requesting people to call a number. While this may seem scary, the expert does give ways for people to protect themselves from scams. He says in all of these cases, there were red flags people can identify.
“Do not open these emails. Do not call. Do not let anyone into your computer where they are moving the mouse. Don’t even let us do it. No one needs to be on your computer,” Duncan said. He said to look out for emails from banks that you are not a customer with, as well as emails saying “dear customer” instead of being specific with your name.
Duncan says this is especially important for individuals who do online banking and have their passwords saved on their laptops. He says if you really think they’re is a problem with your bank account, call or actually go to your bank.
In some of his customer’s cases, Duncan says people got calls from scammers saying they would fix pop-up ads that wouldn’t go away. He warns that the scammer most likely found a way to do this to your computer, and once you are on the phone, they will fix the problem they created.
“They just want to talk to you. Talking to you is what it gets started. And that is where people need to be smart and not let them into their phone,” he said.
Duncan says instead of calling the number on the pop-up, you should try holding the power button and waiting for your computer to restart.
Here are some other tips:
• Don’t open emails or click on links from persons and companies you don’t know.
• Don’t give out any personal information in an email or chat on the phone to someone you don’t know.
• Check for suspicious email domains in your inbox
• Do not click on pop-up warnings on your computer that indicate a problem.
• Don’t take phone calls from unsolicited help desk representatives. And don’t trust caller ID.
• Never send money to someone you don’t know – even in exchange for alleged services they provide, such as fixing a problem with your computer.
• See if your browser provides the option of blocking or enabling remote access. Turn off the remote access.
• Use a strong security software package and VPN – and keep them up-to-date.
Duncan says if you have been scammed, don’t be embarrassed. Instead, first call and report it to your local law enforcement and then tell a friend or a family member to keep the cycle from repeating. He says if you ever need some advice, you can call one of his stores at (540) 682-2141 or (540) 904-2070.