Iowans are being warned about a new high-tech scheme that may catch you off-guard while surfing the ‘net.

Jim Hegarty, president of the Better Business Bureau in Omaha-Council Bluffs, says it’s a sophisticated scam.

Hegarty says, “You could be sitting at your computer and all of the sudden, the computer starts talking to you, telling you: ‘This is Microsoft tech support. We’re shutting your computer down because we’ve detected a virus. Call this 800 number to resolve the problem.’ And it’s just a computer voice.”

Rest assured, he says, there’s nothing wrong with your computer but crooks are trying to dupe you into giving up your personal information. Also, he says don’t bother calling that toll-free number or you’ll hear more tall tales.

“They claim to be with a subsidiary of Microsoft, they want to help solve the problem,” Hegarty says. “It’s going to be $199 to get everything cleaned up or you can buy their virus protection. Unfortunately, hundreds of thousands of individuals have given these people their credit card.” Coincidentally, he says about 90-percent of the people who fall for the scam don’t even realize they’ve been victimized.

“What they’ve done is given their credit card information to some bad actors, likely in India, and they’ve also allowed these individuals into their system where they can operate with malware, low and slow,” Hegarty says. “If you allowed them in to fix it, shut down your computer and take it to a reliable tech support company.” Have the pros clean up the problem correctly, he says, or any private information on your computer could be at risk.