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Ransom-demanding computer scam targets families, businesses

Be wary of clicking on suspicious email attachments, website links and ads
Click on headline for complete warning

By Terry Sebastian and Crystal Staley

FRANKFORT, KY - (9 Sep 2016) - Attorney General Andy Beshear warned Kentuckians to be cautious of an online scam where hackers target personal and business computers with ransomware.

Ransomware is harmful software designed to block access to a computer system until hundreds and even thousands of dollars are paid. Ransomware is often downloaded onto a computer when a user opens a tainted email attachment, visits a compromised website or clicks on a bogus Internet advertisement.

"It is a top priority of my office to protect Kentucky families, especially senior citizens, from new and trending scams," said Beshear. "Hackers continue to target personal computers and they are increasingly seeking out larger sources of data like healthcare records and financial data so they can demand even more money."

Beshear said that ransomware has had a tremendous impact on families and businesses in Kentucky and across the country. In March, the Methodist Hospital in Henderson was scammed by ransomware and many other hospitals, schools and banks have been targeted. This year hackers even attempted to attack congressional computer systems.

To help protect consumers from ransomware Beshear offered these tips from

  • Backup important computer files on a regular basis.

  • Do not click on suspicious links and be cautious of large email attachments with zip files.

  • Do not provide passwords, usernames or computer access to anyone calling claiming to represent a computer repair company.

  • Use reputable security software to avoid harmful websites and to identify infected email attachments.

  • Immediately turn off a computer suspected of being infected with ransomware as this may prevent the software from locking the computer.

  • Know that there is no guarantee the hacker will unlock the device or provide the data once a ransom is paid.
To report ransomware activity contact the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Office at 888-432-9257 or file a consumer complaint online.

Kentuckians are urged to stay up to date on new and trending scams by signing up for Scam Alerts. To enroll text the words KYOAG Scam to GOV311 (468311), or enroll online at and select text message or email alert.

This story was posted on 2016-09-12 07:48:13
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