What to Do If You Fell for a Scam

If you made the mistake of letting the caller remotely access your PC, then it's time for drastic action. First, download and install legitimate antivirus software; we recommend that you pay for it, but some of the free stuff is almost as good. Then, run a scan.

While the software is installing, change the passwords on the user accounts on your PC. You don't have passwords on the user accounts? You should, and you should also create a separate administrative account that alone has the power to install, modify or delete software.

If you gave the scammer your credit card number, then you really need to act fast.

"Call your credit card provider and ask to reverse the charges," says the FTC Web page on tech-support scams. "Check your statements for any other charges you didn't make, and ask to reverse those, too."

You should also contact one of the three credit-reporting agencies — Equifax, Experian or TransUnion — and ask it to place a free 90-day credit alert on your file. (Experian doesn't operate in Canada.) The agency you contact will alert the others. You'll be notified if someone tries to open an account in your name.

Computers do develop problems and do get infected by malware. But remember that if either happens, it's up to you to call tech support or to install antivirus software. Tech support will never call you first.

If you made the mistake of letting the caller remotely access your PC, then it's time for drastic action. First, download and install legitimate antivirus software; we recommend that you pay for it, but some of the free stuff is almost as good. Then, run a scan.

While the software is installing, change the passwords on the user accounts on your PC. You don't have passwords on the user accounts? You should, and you should also create a separate administrative account that alone has the power to install, modify or delete software.

If you gave the scammer your credit card number, then you really need to act fast.

"Call your credit card provider and ask to reverse the charges," says the FTC Web page on tech-support scams. "Check your statements for any other charges you didn't make, and ask to reverse those, too."

You should also contact one of the three credit-reporting agencies — Equifax, Experian or TransUnion — and ask it to place a free 90-day credit alert on your file. (Experian doesn't operate in Canada.) The agency you contact will alert the others. You'll be notified if someone tries to open an account in your name.

Computers do develop problems and do get infected by malware. But remember that if either happens, it's up to you to call tech support or to install antivirus software. Tech support will never call you first.

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