CREATED Jul. 2, 2013
Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- Most of us need some professional help when we run into computer problems at home. But with so much private information on our devices these days, it's important to know who you're hiring. But, a Valley man learned the hard way, you've got to do your homework.
"My computer was running a little erratic or slow. I was getting some pop ups and stuff," said Mike Layne.
He didn't have to go far to find help. That's because an IT service company actually called him first.
"They were aware of a problem with my computer through the Microsoft Windows app that I had," said Mike.
It was last month when Mike heard from Microtec Support, "Basically said they were affiliated with Microsoft."
They sent Mike a contract. For $540, Microtec Support would provide a lifetime of anti-virus software. Mike said it sounded like a good deal, so he gave them his credit card number, and the company started the repairs right away.
"He said go get in front of your computer and he had me typing in coded letters, and that gave them access to my computer," explained Mike.
He was told the repair time would be about 24 hours. But he waited 3 days and said he didn't touch his computer. When he finally checked it, he said things were even worse.
"It would have pop-ups and it would just go to different screens. It was real hard to turn on, to even gain access to," said Mike.
He said he called Microtec Support, and they offered to try fixing it again.
"I said I don't want you touching my computer anymore. You've ruined it to the point where, I might have to buy a new one," said Mike.
That's when he decided to call Contact 13, and we reached out to Microtec Support. The Florida-based company said they installed anti-virus software and all the essential tools to protect Mike's computer. The company said everything was working when they were done, and that Mike actually filled out what they call a "satisfaction note."
But Mike said he never completed anything like that. Microtec Support also said they were contacted by Mike's credit card company, and had to refund his money. Again, Mike said not true. He does want his money back and paying with his credit card does give Mike some recourse. But he said he hasn't started the process of disputing the charges, and none of the money has been refunded to his account. And that's not all. Remember how this all started?
"These guys kept calling me," said Mike.
He said he got several unsolicited phone calls from Microtec Support before hiring them. Contact 13 spoke with local IT service provider Anexeon, which said it is possible for someone to see what's happening on your computer. But only if you willingly give them access, or you unknowingly download malware onto your device.
Contact 13 wondered how Microtec Support, located in Florida, knew Mike was having computer problems here in Nevada. They didn't answer that question. But Microtec Support is now accusing Mike of fraud, for trying to get his money back after receiving their service.
So what should you do, if you need help with your computer?
"You want to actually vet these companies before you actually hand over your computer or give them access to your computer," said Katie Robison with the Better Business Bureau of Southern Nevada.
She said get at least 3 bids. If you can, pick a company with a physical location you can actually visit. And before handing over your device, "You want to back up your entire computer. Back up all of your files."
In Mike's case, he didn't do that. And he said that worries him, because he doesn't know who may have gained access to his personal info, "I have some information. My daughter has a lot of her information on there. My wife has some, probably our social security numbers, our birth dates."
So here's the Contact 13 bottom line. Before you hand over your computer for repairs, make the initial call to the business, so you know exactly who you're dealing with.
We reached out to Microsoft to confirm if Microtec Support is affiliated. Microsoft wouldn't comment specifically about Microtec Support.
If you have an issue after getting calls about computer repair or other services, you can file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.