“My Mom called and told me she’s got a pop up window on her computer that won’t close,” Brenda said. “And that the text says “Click here to authorize all necessary repairs now.” She asked me if I should click it and I practically screamed “No!””

Pop ups telling a computer user that there’s a problem with their computer requiring immediate repair are one common tool of computer repair scammers. Be aware that internet service providers, software companies, and computer companies like Toshiba, Dell, and Lenovo never use pop up windows for customer service messages. If there’s any type of problem these companies want to make you aware of, they will most likely contact you via email or even in writing.

Baby Boomers and the elderly are among the most vulnerable to computer repair scams. The reason for this is two-fold. While older people are increasingly comfortable with technology, many still aren’t entirely sure about how things are supposed to work. Some of the computer scams are quite sophisticated and appear legitimate. The second reason is that there is a greater response to authoritative messaging among older listeners: when they’re told they have to do something like click on a window authorizing remote access to their computer, they do it.

Once remote access has been granted by an owner to a scammer, there’s literally no telling how much harm can be done. Scammers have been known to engage in identity theft, access online banking accounts, and even insert malicious code into a computer’s programming that makes it inoperable without a password only the scammer has. The scammer may be willing to sell you the password for hundreds, even thousands, of dollars, but there’s no guarantee it will actually unlock your computer, and you have no recourse if it doesn’t.

Let your older friends and loved ones know that if they have any concerns about the way their computer is operating, their best bet is to bring it to their local computer repair shop. This removes the threat posed by hackers seeking remote access. Legitimate problems can be addressed, but many times scammers send “You need repair messages” when there’s nothing wrong with the computer at all!