CREATED Aug. 6, 2013
Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- Most of us need a professional when we have computer problems at home. But you can't be too careful about where you turn for help. Action News is hearing from a number of locals with similar complaints.
Janet Marks of Henderson said her phone was ringing off the hook last month. The calls were all from the same number.
"I ignored them. I looked at my caller ID and it's a strange number. It's a one and all zeros," said Janet.
But after getting about a dozen phone calls over a couple weeks, she said she finally decided to pick up the phone.
"He said to me, he's calling from Windows and they have detected a problem on my computer," said Janet.
She said she wasn't having any computer issues. But she started to panic as the caller explained they detected a virus that could eventually wipe everything off her computer. Contact 13 told you about a similar case last month involving Mike Layne.
"They were aware of a problem with my computer through the Microsoft Windows app that I had," said Mike.
Just like Mike, the company reaching out to Janet was offering help for a small fee. She agreed, and paid with her credit card. This emailed receipt shows Janet was charged by a company called "Click 4 Protect," which charged her a one-time support fee of $76. But Janet said, they actually made things worse.
"When I went to turn my computer on the next morning, something didn't look right," said Janet.
She said it looked like they had gone through everything on her computer, and that some programs were missing. Frustrated and with no where else to turn, Janet emailed Contact 13, and we reached out to a local computer expert.
"Anybody saying their Microsoft or Apple saying you have a problem on your PC, is instantly fraudulent. Just hang up the phone," said Curt Miller, founder of Anexeon, an I.T. service provider in Las Vegas.
He said no one can detect an issue on your personal home device.
"You're computer should not be sending anything out about its health, except to a company you've already contracted with," said Curt.
Contact 13 wanted to know if Click 4 Protect really knew Janet's computer had a virus.
We spoke with the company owner in California. He said it's true, they can't detect a virus on anyone's computer. He claims his sales team is actually a contracted company in the Philippines, and admits some of those employees have lied in the past in order to get business. He said those representatives were fired, and he plans to investigate this latest case.
"Be very leary of these people who call if you don't know them," said Janet.
She got a full refund the same day we spoke with the company owner. Janet also hired another company, who found there weren't any programs missing off her computer. But after this experience, she wants to warn others.
"Don't give them any information and just hang up the phone, period," said Janet.
So here's the Contact 13 bottom line: If you need help fixing your computer, make the initial call to the business yourself, so you know exactly who you're dealing with.
It's also a good idea to back up any files, before you face any major issues and lose anything important. And if you get a call from a company claiming to detect problems on your computer, you can file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.