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Fake tech support warning targets Apple users

Rebecca Branch of the state Attorney General’s Office has passed along an email she got warning of a “slick scam” that’s based on a purported Apple problem.

It usually happens when you’re browsing the Internet, and it goes like this: a popup will appear and and then freeze, keeping you from being able to get out of the window. Next, you’ll see a warning on your screen telling you that you were on a phishing site and your network has just been hacked. Then – to the rescue – you’ll get a dialogue window with a number to call for support.

The email to Branch says when you call that number, you’ll get someone claiming to be from Apple who will direct you to an Apple-looking support site. In this case, the scammer claimed to have run a diagnostic on the computer and said it had suffered a hack by the “Koobface” virus.

In these so-called “tech support scams,”

you’ll then be asked for remote access to your computer so the supposed technicians can do some trouble-shooting. In fact, what they really want is a look-see at everything you have stored in your computer files.

Microsoft advises people that the best response is no response. Do not call the phone number to begin with. That’s the best type of prevention. Never give access to your computer.

no website can scan your computer for malware or suspicious activity. “At most, web browsers can warn you that a particular site you are trying to visit is bad, but they cannot make any determinations as to the state of your computer,” an alert from Microsoft said.

For those who were conned into giving the scammers remote access, you should consider your computer compromised.

The alert notes that

“There is no telling what they may have done with that remote access, and there is no program on earth that can determine whether or not they have installed something malicious or made some kind of malicious change to your computer’s settings,” Microsoft says. “They could be recording your keystrokes, monitoring all your network traffic or watching you through your webcam, among other things.”


More on password security.

Allan Trosclair, a former Visa International vice president who now lives in New Mexcio, recommends a website that allows you to play with password length and composition and see how long it would take a hacker to crack the code. The free interactive analysis at was created by security expert Steve Gibson, president of California-based Gibson Research.

A presentation on spotting scams and preventing fraud and identity theft will be held from 9:30 to 11 a.m. Tuesday at Hotel Albuquerque, 800 Rio Grande.

The free presentation is hosted by the AARP Fraud Watch Network. To reserve a seat, call 1-877-926-8300.

Similar events will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m.: Wednesday at the Taos Convention Center; July 14 at the Best Western Sally Port Inn in Roswell and July 16 at the Plaza Hotel in Las Vegas, N.M.

Ellen Marks is assistant business editor at the Albuquerque Journal. Contact her at or 505-823-3842 if you are aware of what sounds like a scam. To report a scam to law enforcement, contact the New Mexico Consumer Protection Division toll-free at 1-800-678-1508.