Saturday, July 20, 2013

Another Scam!

I got a phone call at noon today. There was that hesitation delay that happens with telemarketing calls. Sometimes I even hang up before they can get on, although sometimes it turns out to be a friend calling from a cellphone.

Anyway, this guy called me by name and said he was calling from the International [something something] Hacking Bureau and there was a problem on my computer. In that split second, I thought, "I bought my laptop from Best Buy."

He had an Indian accent and was hard to understand and he was telling me how my computer has been "seriously hacked." I hadn't been on my computer today at the time of the phone call, but I said to him, "I am not having any problems." He said that he is getting reports about my computer and how he is going to help me.

I hung up the phone for two reasons:

1. If I had been hacked, and I have before, I would just change my passwords as I did previously.
2. I really thought it's difficult enough to get a help desk/technical support person to talk to you when you want to. They do not make helpful, outgoing calls.

Out of curiosity, I googled "scam hacking telephone call" and sure enough there it is. Here's the first half of the article... and I cut and pasted up until the helpful advice of "Be the hunter, not the hunted." It's a good thing to keep in mind.

So of course, I haven't been hacked.

In the hour or so since this phone call, the phoniness of it is obvious to me, but at the time, caught offguard, I can see how people fall for it. 12 Noon on Saturday and my laptop was the furthest thing from my mind. I'm told my computer has been "seriously hacked." My impulse is "oh no" and wanting to fix it.

Here's the first half of the article -- the rest of it is what to do if you fell for it.


Con artists are using old-fashioned technology to gain access to consumers' newfangled technology.

I pride myself on knowing all the latest scams, but I had never heard of this one, so I'm assuming you haven't either. Here's how it works: A crook calls you on the phone, poses as a technician from a big company like Microsoft, and claims he's detected a virus on your computer. He (or she!) then asks for access to your computer in order to "help" you.

From there, the scheme can devolve into several different money-making ploys, according to the Federal Trade Commission. The con artist may:
  • Ask for remote access to your computer and then change your settings in a way that makes your computer -- or the information on it -- vulnerable.
  • Enroll you in an expensive -- but worthless -- computer security, maintenance or warranty program.
  • Trick you into installing malware that then snags your private information, like passwords or financial details.
  • Ask for your credit card information and steal it or use it to bill you for fake services or services that are readily available for free.
This is where my oldest and best advice comes into play. I always advise: "be the hunter, not the hunted." In other words, learn to be skeptical of any stranger who comes at you claiming urgency and demanding money.


Barbara said...

I has a similar, but slightly more old fashioned scam call the other day ... it was also a man with an accent, who said "Hello Mrs. ---" using my husband's last name, then said something like, the inspector was in your area, and noticed that you have storm damage to your roof, and we can take care of it for you, when would be a good time to come over. Like you, I said right away, "We are not having any problems with our roof." He repeated something about an inspector... in retrospect it seems crazy, but I can see why some people fall for it, because it was alarming! And creepy!

Pat said...

I do hope there's a special section of hell reserved for these people. I believe they are experts in human nature -- they use all the key words "inspector" and "storm damage" -- and you hear "inspector" and it makes you sit up straight! They have it all down to a science.