CPD warns of phone scam, caller claiming to be from Microsoft

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COLUMBIA - The Columbia Police Department issued a scam alert Friday warning against a phony warranty scheme from a caller claiming to be with Microsoft. 

The alert said the caller tries to guide the victim to a website called "Team Builder" where the scammer then has the victim log on and go through the victim's computer, claiming to find Trojan viruses and needing to extend the warranty. 

Police said the scam caller then asks for credit card information to extend the warranty and remove the viruses.

The phone numbers reported to police included 1 (800) 892-5432 and 1 (202) 738-4624, and also included the address 200 South West Independent Apartment, Washington, D.C.

Mike Harrison, regional director for the Columbia Better Business Bureau, said phone scammers have a tendency to be very convincing.

"They play off of people's fears and emotions," Harrison said. "They're very, very persuasive."

Harrison also said all it takes is a little trust on the consumer's end.

"Once they've gained that trust, and they've asked for that, if they get the credit card information, they can start charging and really start racking up the credit card bills for these consumers," Harrison said.

Although police said the victims have refused to give out their credit card information, the department provided prevention tips to avoid phone scams:

1.) Never send cash or money orders or give out personal information such as credit card numbers and expiration dates, bank account numbers, dates of birth, or social security numbers to unfamiliar companies or unknown persons.

2.) If you call the number back that called you to verify the information and a recording picks up not stating the name of the company this is a scam.

3.) Make a phone call to verify the information. A thirty second phone call can save you money.

4.) If something doesn't seem right, it's NOT right, HANG UP!

To report information you may have or if you're a victim, call (573) 875-TIPS.

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