By Jim Donovan

By Jim Donovan

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — We’re used to seeing internet scams in our e-mail, but did you know that internet scams can also start with a phone call? 3 On Your Side Consumer Reporter Jim Donovan has a warning tonight: If you get a call regarding a security issue with your computer, you’re likely being targeted in a scam.

The caller will claim to represent legitimate companies like Microsoft or Apple, and will often say that they’re reaching out to provide a free security check. Once they have tricked victims into believing they have a problem with their computer, the scammers run through a range of deception techniques designed to steal money.

It was a call just like that, and it took Penny Moore by surprise. She says, “The lady was speaking very bad English, stating that she wanted my IP address on my computer and she’d walk me through getting it.”

The caller wanted to access her computer remotely. Moore thought the request was odd, especially because of how the woman introduced herself.

“She kept saying she was from Windows, which was a red flag, because you know they don’t call and they would’ve said it was Microsoft if they’d called. A bunch of red flags went up,” Moore says.

After Penny refused to give her IP address, the woman hung up.

That call was part of a scam.

“I’m just worried that they’re going to get hold of someone who’s going to give them access, and [the scammers] may get access to their checking account, and their bank accounts, and do something fraudulently using their IP address,” Moore says.

“Scammers get very inventive, and in this case, they’re just calling random people,” says Bill Ramsey, of Cybertron IT. He says scammers are hoping someone will fall for their tactics so they can exploit them. “It’s not possible for them to know what your phone number is and know that your specific system on the internet has some problem.”

So what’s the bottom line? No software or computer company will ever make an unsolicited phone call to anyone at home. If you ever get a message from someone saying they are from Microsoft or from Apple, just hang up.

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