Lookout for fake websites, emails, search results, and phone calls.
All scammers have one thing in common – they will try to convince you in a variety of ways that something is wrong with your computer and you have to pay them money to fix it. In fact, you do not have the problem they claim. They are lying. Do not pay them.
The process of scamming you can start in several ways:
- You get a phone call from someone claiming they are from X company. They say your computer has been sending out viruses and they need to login and fix it. It’s fake. Just hang up and go about your day.
- You are browsing the Internet and click on something. The next thing you know you get a scary, noisy message on the screen, sometimes with a voice talking in the background, saying you are infected and you must call the number listed or you will die. In fact, it’s a completely fake website detecting nothing. Try rebooting the computer to exit because sometimes clicking the X in the corner will not work.
- You get an email from what looks like a trusted source. They need to “confirm” something with your account and you must “click here” to login and fix it. In fact, they are directing you to a fake website that looks like your login screen. They record what you enter and collect your login information.
- You are searching for information on a vendor. For example, you are having printer trouble and want the tech support number for HP or Epson. You go to Google and enter “HP tech support number”, or something similar. Chances are one or more numbers you see listed are fake. You call the fake number and the person on the other end will be whomever you want them to be. From there, you are asked to allow them access to your computer. Google has taken steps to combat fake search results, but still be on the lookout.
- Any text messages indicating that you must take action to resolve an issue is fake.
- Here’s something new. Bad guys are using computers to mimic the voice of a trusted individual, like your boss, asking for secret information. It’s called “deep fakes”. If it’s an unusual request out of the blue, call back to confirm.
Even with these warning against taking action, people will still allow the scammers into their computers using remote access. We have found that they very rarely take personal information from your computer. Their one and only mission is to get you to send them money to fix non-existent issues. They will show you things to “prove” you have problems when, in fact, what they show you is normal operation.
When we get notified of such an event, the first thing we ask is if money was exchanged. If so, call your bank or credit card company and freeze the account, or whatever they recommend. On the plus side, it’s remarkable how fast most credit card companies will notify you of suspicious activity. Banks, not so much. I’m stunned at how banks will allow unusual banking activity to take place with minimal to no suspicion. Credit card companies will put an immediate stop to suspicious purchases, pending approval.
We typically ask for the machine in the shop or in some case can remote in – for legitimate reasons! We are looking to see if anything was left behind, such as the software they used to remote into the computer to begin with.
Again, the banks and credit card companies are onto this, even though the response from some of those banks is sub-par. Because of that, the scammers now have a goofy way of getting money from you that involves gift cards or some such thing. It’s all nonsense. Don’t do anything. Hang up the phone and shut down the computer if they are remoted in. Give us a call and we can talk it over and decide what action to take next.