Couple learns lesson on phone scams the hard way

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MEXICO BEACH, Fla. (WJHG/WECP)- Scams come in all shapes and forms, and unfortunately, you can't always keep your personal items and devices safe.

The phone rings, an unknown number appears, and with one phone call, Judy and Ron Robbins lost everything on their computer.

"The man said I am from Microsoft. I said 'I didn't call Microsoft.' No I'm calling you. There is a problem with you computer. It's full of viruses and I can fix it for you," says Judy.

Scams are a constant problem in the digital world and if you don't know how to spot them it's easy to fall victim.

"So I sat down at my computer and we did some things and he showed me all the virus," Judy continues.

After a short conversation, the voice on the other end of the line began to demand money.

"He said if we wanted access to our computer then we would have to pay him," says Ron, "he computer at that point was hijacked. I couldn't get in it."

After refusing to give in, Ron and Judy hung up the phone and sought professional help, but at that point, there was nothing that could be done.

"I lost my contacts, I lost my documents, recipes, pictures. I lost everything. And there's no getting it back," explains Judy.

While the Robbins have lost cherished pictures, they've gained insight into the dangers of online scams.

"I have a feeling that if we had given him that five dollars we still wouldn't have gotten a password and it would have multiplied," expresses the couple.

Another scam that's caught the attention of local authorities is being dubbed the can you hear me scam.

According to the Better Business Bureau, scammers pose as representatives from a variety of services and businesses, and ask - "can you hear me?"

The BBB report says if you answer "yes," there's a chance the scammer will record your voice to use as an agreement to sign you up for a product or service and demand money.

While these scenarios do happen all too frequently, there are steps to keep you from becoming a victim online.

Experts recommend you change your passwords frequently and keep your important information on an external hard drive.

Local deputies also point out that law enforcement officers, IRS officials, and Microsoft employees will never ask for your money over the phone.

They say if you receive an unknown call asking for money or other personal information, hang up immediately and contact local law enforcement.