'Tech Support' computer scams on the rise

"Hello. This is the computer security management department. We're calling because we've detected a problem with your computer."

That's how it starts. The caller, usually with a heavy foreign accent, tells you they've detected a problem with your computer and are calling to help you get rid of a bug in your system. In reality, that "bug" is the scammer on the other end of the line.

The so-called "Tech Support Scam" has been around for years, but a recent spike in complaints to the Problem Solvers suggests the crooks are accelerating their bogus operations and perhaps modifying their approach.

In a nutshell, the point of the call is to get you to let the caller take over your computer so he can "fix" the problem. What he's really doing, is installing malicious software, otherwise known as malware, and accessing your sensitive information: your contacts, your accounts, the sky's the limit.

One of the most recent tech support scams uses Netflix as a lure to get you to call a bogus support number to find out why your account had been suspended. Once they have access to your computer, they keep you on the phone and go through your personal files, uploading whatever looks lucrative.

Microsoft, the National Consumers League and others continue to post warnings and remind all computer uses that no legitimate company will ever contact you by phone or email and ask you to click on a link, provide personal information, or try to get permission to take over your computer to fix a problem.

In many cases, the scammers not only steal your personal information, they charge you hundreds of dollars on your credit card for "extended security" protection.