Officials with the Cloquet Police Department are warning residents of the city and the surrounding area about a new phone scam.

Over the past week the department has received several similar complaints from residents reporting that they received calls from people claiming to be from "Microsoft" and told the residents that their computers have viruses on them and they need to fix them.  The scammer then requests remote access to the victim's computer.  Once connected, the caller shows the victim innocuous logs and events and tells them that they are viruses and sends them a link to Western Union to pay for their services to fix the virus.

Damage from these scams can occur in multiple ways.  By taking control of the victim's computer, the caller can:

  • Transfer information, creating a possible breach in personal information and possible identity theft issues.
  • The scammer can inject their own virus onto the computer, creating a "zombie" computer or holding the computer "hostage" until a fee is paid.
  • Damage, delete or destroy files on the computer that can affect the operability of the computer.

Microsoft does not make these types of calls.

If you receive one of these types of calls, contact your local police department, the Better Business Bureau, the Internet Crime Complaint Center, or the Minnesota Attorney General's Office.

Here are some helpful links:

http://www.bbb.org

http://www.ag.state.mn.us/Consumer/Complaint.asp

https://www.ic3.gov/complaint/default.aspx