WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – With more people working and schooling from home, some financial institutions are hearing increased reports of computer scams.

Victims of scams fall across every age and demographic.

“So really, no one is immune under the right or wrong circumstances,” Meritrust Credit Union enterprise fraud manager Shannon Slaughter said.

Slaughter says a common one right now all starts with a seemingly legitimate computer pop-up. The pop-up prompts the consumer to call a phone number for a “computer company help desk” or for “virus protection”.

At that point, the consumer calls the number and the “tech rep” that answers will then log onto the indivudal’s online banking while they are dialed in. They may ask for you to download a screen-sharing app. Then, a black screen comes over the view that prevents you from seeing what the “tech rep” is doing. They will then often request you to buy gift cards and send the codes in for those cards.

“The first thing you can do when this pop-up happens is you can do a reverse lookup on that phone number to see if it actually links to that merchant. You can also go directly to the website for the provider as well and see if you can find a customer service number there. You know, you never want to log into your financial accounts while someone is dialed into your computer,” Slaughter said.

Doing so can give scamsters access to your accounts and money.

Unfortunately, if you decide to purchase gift cards and send codes somewhere, your financial institution likely cannot help you recoup those losses.

“It’s so unfortunate when this happens. And that is why we want to get this message out there, we want people to be vigilant and to protect their accounts and their their personal information,” Slaughter said.

Slaughter says the golden rule for scams is: if it sounds too good to be true, it’s probably a scam.

“Oftentimes, they won’t listen to that little voice that tells them that something is off in a situation, especially if there is some form of desperation either for money for employment, sometimes even with romance scams and love,” Slaughter said.

Meritrust provided these tips for protecting you and your family from computer virus scams:

  • 1) Do a reverse lookup on the phone number provided OR go to the provider’s website and search for the number there.
  • 2)  Never log into your accounts while someone is dialed in on your device.
  • 3)  Never download screen sharing apps at the request of someone who contacted you first.
  • 4)  Never give over control of your device to someone else/
  • 5)  Never buy gift cards and send codes to ANYONE.