Janice Peterman was eating dinner at home in Payette last week when she got a suspicious telephone call.
The caller told Peterman in a thick accent that he was calling from Microsoft. He was even using a phone number from the Seattle area, where Microsoft is based.
Peterman said the caller told her that her computer had contacted Microsoft saying it was being invaded by all these viruses, and (identity thieves) would come in and take all my information, and they needed to fix it for me.
The 70-year-old was skeptical. How would Microsoft get her phone number?
He was scaring the hell out of me, she said. And I thought, Ive got a bulletin for you, dude: I think youre full of crap.
After hanging up, she called back the phone number and found it was invalid.
The next day, she picked up the Statesman and saw a brief story about the Federal Trade Commission going after tech-support caller scams and halting six of them.
Theyre still doing it, Peterman thought.
The FTC believes tens of thousands of consumers have been tricked into giving callers remote access to their computers and paying $49 to $450 for bogus virus and spyware removal.
Most of the alleged scammers used telemarketers to call consumers, using 130 different phone numbers. One alleged scammer placed ads on Google that showed up in searches for tech-support phone numbers.
The tech-support scam artists we are talking about today have taken scareware to a whole other level of virtual mayhem, said FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz.
The Consumer Protection Division of the Idaho attorney generals office and the Better Business Bureau in Boise have received reports of suspicious tech-support calls to Idahoans.
To report a solicitation that seems like a scam, contact the attorney generals consumer protection team at 334-2424 or the FTC at (877) FTC-HELP (382-4357).
The attorney generals office recommends obtaining as much information as possible from the caller, such as an address, without giving out any of your own information.
Peterman said her daughter works in the tech industry and travels the U.S. setting up software.
People my age, we did not grow up with computers, and all these words out there theyre going to steal your identity, theyre going to steal your money, make it easy to be frightened, she said. I am lucky in that I have (a daughter) like that to turn to, and I have someone who can get on my computer and see what this birdbrain is talking about.
She contacted the Statesman hoping to spread the word that the scams are still occurring locally.
If somebody is asking you to do something you dont understand, especially with your computer, just say no, she said.
Audrey Dutton: 377-6448, Twitter: @IDS_Audrey