Let’s say you are having trouble with your accounting software. What do you do? Turn to Google of course, and enter: “Quickbooks Help” or “Quickbook Support.” The results you get may look like legitimate sites. But a Fort Myers computer expert warns they may not be.

“Scammers are gaming the system for placement. They set up fake companies and come up in the top on searches, even ahead of the actual company website,” said David Keller, owner of Compu-Doctor.

Keller said he noticed this scam trending last fall. But it wasn’t until recently when two people he knew – one client and one friend – got burned by clicking on one of these fake sites when they needed help with their computer programs.

Once you’ve contacted a scam site there’s no telling what can happen, but it will be bad. Under the guise of helping you solve your problem, the fake technicians will remotely take over your computer. When they do that, they can plant malware or leave a “back door” open so they can get in later, Keller said, giving them access to bank or credit card accounts and anything else you may have on your computer.

This same scam can come in with pop-up ads, Keller said. A notification will appear on your computer screen  alerting you to a virus or system failure and directing you to call a number.

It is sometimes hard to tell you’re not really talking to the software vendor’s actual support team, Keller said. Some people are suspicious when they hear a foreign accent on a help line, but that’s not a good way to tell because many companies outsource tech support to other countries. But there are a few things you should do to avoid getting scammed:

Email scams

I often get emails from readers with a copy of an email they’ve received. They may suspect it’s a scam or they want to know if it is. The email almost always includes a hyperlink or attachment to download. If you think of doing this, I’ve got to tell you, I’m not going to click on a link or download anything from a random email. And neither should you.

That said, I did get a few emails that I think I should warn people about:

IRS refund email

The email subject line on this one is “Your tax-back has arrived!” That should be your first tip-off of a scam. The grammar and word usage may be odd when it’s coming from a writer in a foreign country. What American would call a refund a “tax-back?”

The next reason you know this is a scam? The IRS is not going to notify you of a refund via email. When you are due a refund the IRS will deposit the money directly to the bank account number you provided or it will send a check. It will not ask you to download an attached form the way this email does.

The name on this email reads Internal Revenue Service, but take a look at the email address. It does not end in “irs.gov.” The ones I’ve seen are all linked to email servers in foreign countries. And no matter what you’ve heard or read about employee cutbacks at the IRS, the government is not hiring workers in Eastern Europe and Africa to contact U.S. taxpayers about their refunds.

Oil Pension Checks

An email about investments in “oil pension” companies was forwarded by a reader who asked, “Is this a scam?” It wasn’t clear if he was referring to the email, the investment vehicle or both. But I think the latter may be the case.

The email highlighted the income of three investors. “Timothy who is on track to collect an average of nearly $1,785 a month,” “Perry (who) has been getting $20,331.13 a month” and “John” who is being paid “a stunning average of $25,598 a month” benefits of the “Oil Pension Check Program.” All the reader would have to do is click a link.

I didn’t click the link. So I don’t know if it went to a legitimate site or if by doing so it would have loaded malware onto my computer. Again, I would advise you not to click on any link, especially from an email source you don’t know.

As for the investment in oil pension companies, I don’t know anything about that. But I do know that if I received an investment opportunity in an unsolicited email, my next move would be to hit the delete key.

Contact: TellMel@news-press.com; (239)344-4772; 2442 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Fort Myers, FL 33901. facebook.com/TellMel and Twitter @tellmel Sign up for the Tell Mel newsletter at news-press.com/newsletters