Consumer Alert: Thieves who take control of your computer. Here’s what to do if it happens to you.

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Imagine someone a world away taking control of your computer. Think about the information he could glean — every password, your personal information, and access to your accounts. That’s the dangerous scam I’ve been investigating.

I know that because one of our viewers was almost victimized. But first, she reached out to me. A News10NBC viewer got an official-looking email that claims to be from PayPal. It says that a payment of more than $2,400 was made from her PayPal account to a porn site. The email directs you to call a number if you didn’t authorize the transaction.

The first red flag is the fact that the scammer uses the country code. People in the U.S. don’t start a number with +1. Secondly, that number is not PayPal customer service. So I called it, and I was connected to someone who is likely an ocean away.

He told me, "We were seeing some unusual attempts going on on your PayPal account. Your bank approved this transaction so that’s the reason we sent you an email.”

He keeps me on the phone for 10 minutes, claiming he can see fraudulent activity on my PayPal account. Then he tells me to go to my computer. This is where things get dangerous.

He directed me to a website called TeamViewer. He wanted me to download the TeamViewer software which would have given him remote access to my computer, allowing him into my financial world, my passwords, my bank accounts, my credit cards.

When used as intended, TeamViewer and software like it are great tools for providing remote tech support or working with colleagues from a distance. But in the wrong hands, a thief could wreak havoc, stealing your identity, your money and your sanity.

TeamViewer is aware of the fact that thieves have used its software for criminal activity. On its website, it warns, “There are people whose intentions are to use remote control software for malicious purposes.” It asks you to report the use of its software for illegal purposes.

These are called remote scams, and crooks will try to get you to download software like TeamViewer, LogMeIn and GoToAssist.

Never let someone on the phone convince you to download this software on your computer

Click here for more information on recognizing and avoiding remote scams.