OMAHA(KPTM)--Almost everyone out there has had computer issues at one point in time or another. When that happens, a friendly voice on the help line is definitely welcome.
But if that friendly voice called you, the Better Business Bureau says it's probably a scam.
"There's quite a bit that once [scammers] gain access, they could be doing," said Nathan Roane, president of American PCS.
His company provides IT support for smaller companies. He's one of the guys who helps set up thousands of dollars worth of protective firewalls and anti-virus programs for people and their businesses, but that won't protect you if scammers con you into giving them access to your computer.
The BBB says people will typically get a call from someone claiming to be from Microsoft tech support, or another well-known company. They'll say your computer is sending them error messages and has a virus.
They tell you they can get rid of it, but first they need access to your computer. Once you've allowed it, they'll point out how the virus is "affecting" you and offer to remove it for a fee.
So now they have your credit card info along with a whole other treasure trove of personal information.
"They can install keystroke loggers and gain other information to where anything you store, anything you do whether it's banking information, user names or passwords, they can record. The whole gamut of identity theft is often available on your computer," said Roane.
There have also been cases in the past where a scammer uses someone's personal computer in a cyber crime.
"So, it causes you the grief and the hassle of removing the virus, plus you could be potentially investigated for criminal activity that has been done through your computer without your permission," said Roane.
One of the best ways to keep from getting scammed is to keep your personal information off the web as much as possible.
If someone calls you claiming to be from tech support, hang up and call the company back with their main line.
If you ever think someone has gained access to your computer without your permission, disconnect the computer from the internet and take it to a professional right away.