How to Avoid Getting Scammed

This post was updated on October 20, 2018

Star Wars Gif,

Have you been receiving phone calls or been seeing websites that claim your computer is infected with a virus?

They are scams!  Clients call me quite often about these. Just this past week, I was working with a client when she received one and a couple of days later another client left me a message with a recording of it!  It’s actually pretty funny when you understand what’s going on!

So it’s time to for me to reminded you again, that neither Microsoft nor Apple is going to call you!  

Here is a link to an excellent page on Microsoft’s website that has everything you need to know about it.  Avoid Tech Support Phone Scams

Scam artists know how to scare people and get them rattled so they won’t think clearly and will react hastily.  They have been able to trick some pretty tech-savvy people.

These types of scams are not only stressful and expensive, but they cause considerable embarrassment. (Here is a video  from NBC News that explains how they work)

Here’s a recording of the calls being made to people here in the desert now.

The good news is that you can protect yourself with these Techie Tips:

Be aware that there are many variations on this type of scam.  It’s called Social Engineering.  They rely tricking people.  They use emails, fake websites and direct phone calls and they may claim that they are from Apple, Microsoft, the IRS, a Bank, Netflix, the FBI, AT&T etc., etc.. (there will me more…)

Here is the simple, easy way to handle all of these:  

    • Hang up the phone
    • Delete the email
    • Close the window (If the window won’t close, close the web browser if that doesn’t work, shutdown the computer and restart.

Do not call any number suggested

If you feel you must verify that it’s a scam, find the correct customer service number on your monthly billing statement and call the company directly or, If you look up the phone number on the internet, be sure that you are on the company’s website and not a fake look-alike site.)

If you get tricked by one of these scams, and allow access to your computer, don’t panic.  It will cost you $100 or more but it can be fixed.  You can:

  1. Take it to a repair shop for a complete check up and removal of any viruses or spyware.  (Let me know if you would like a referral.)
  2. Or you might just invest the money in a Chromebook instead.  (Call me for a free consultation to determine if a Chromebook is right for you.)

Note:  Running a scan with your antivirus software may not be adequate.  Each antivirus program has its strengths and weaknesses and you can’t depend on just one in a situation like this.  

The scammers may not have installed a virus.  They may have installed spyware, a keylogger (tracks the keys you use for typing passwords), or remote access software (to give them access to your computer any time they want).  Their goal may have been just to get you to pay for phony tech support but you can’t be sure. You should engage the services of a professional.

If you have passwords stored in a document on your computer, you may want to change all your passwords.  (Using a password manager will protect you from this complication.)

An even simpler solution to all of this is to use a Chrome OS computer and Gmail.  Gmail is very, very effective at sending scam emails to the Spam folder and Chrome OS does not allow scammers access to install spyware.

Some Chromebooks cost less than the price of a virus repair for a PC or Mac and you won’t have to pay annual fees for antivirus protection and backups.  Everything is done on “the cloud” so you can’t lose your files. Let me know if you want more information about Chromebooks.

I hope this Techie Tip has increased your confidence and alleviated any fears you may have had.  Now you can confidently and calmly,

  1. Delete scam emails,
  2. Close fake web pages,
  3. Hang up on scam phone calls.  (Feel free to give them a piece of your mind first if it will make you feel better.  Leo Laporte says, “Does your mother know that you’re doing this?”)
  4. Enjoy a peaceful techie life!

Please share this with your friends and encourage them to sign up for Techie Tips, so they can be safe and fully enjoy technology like you.   They can sign up here:

Enjoy!

Mardi

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