GRAHAM, N.C. - A Triad woman says she fell for a scheme and unknowingly helped hackers to her personal information.
WFMY News 2's Morgan Hightower spoke to Melba Fitzgerald after she called WFMY hoping to warn others.
"This morning around 8:30 I got a phone call from Tucson, Arizona and when I answered the phone, they said 'I understand you have some problems with your computer, it's slow.' And I said, 'Yes it is...I don't know anything about the computer,' and they said, 'We want to help you,'" explained Melba Fitzgerald, a Graham resident.
Fitzgerald said she believed the person really could and would help her.
"I didn't know how he would know I had problems with my computer if it wasn't legitimate."
Fitzgerald says the caller told her to go to a website and then follow her instructions. She says the caller promised to help - free of charge.
"After you would go to this website, she would say 'Now hit enter' and then she'd say, 'Do you see such and such on this page? Go click on that,'" explained Fitzgerald.
Fitzgerald added, "She had access to my computer and had it running, a lot of things were running through there and it was showing error, error, error, error and it was checking them off so it was looking like it was really bad."
Fitzgerald said she thought she was getting a great deal but says she quickly realized the caller was not helping at all. After promising a free service, Fitzgerald says the caller suddenly demanded a credit card number.
"She said, 'Put your card number in,' I said 'I'm not putting my card number in, give me a phone number,'" explained Fitzgerald. "She said 'Do this now.' I said 'I'm sorry I'm not doing this,' and I hung up on her."
Fitzgerald immediately called her daughter who checked out that website.
"They're hackers. They got me."
"I feel stupid really because as I think back on it, you think, I should have known better than that," said Fitzgerald.
She canceled all her credit cards, changed her passwords, and alerted her bank. She fears the damage might already be done.
"I would say if anyone wants to help you with your computer, be sure you know who they are and that they are really going to help you because they can really get you in a mess before you know it," explained Fitzgerald.
To avoid becoming a victim to these "tech support" calls, the Better Business Bureau suggests:
-Never give control of your computer to a third party unless you can confirm that it is a legitimate representative of a computer support team with whom you are already a customer.
-Never provide your credit card or financial information to someone claiming to be from tech support.
-Take the caller's information down and report it to your local authorities or the FTC.
If you did allow a caller to access your computer:
-Change the passwords for your computer, email and online banking/credit card accounts.
-Be sure to run a virus scan
-Consider placing a fraud alert on your credit report if you shared personal and banking information.