Here’s a conversations I’ve had one too many times with a client:
(Them) So, I got this call and the person said they were from Microsoft and that I had some viruses on my computer which needed to be removed.
(Me) Uh huh…
(Them) I wasn’t sure what was going on, but I let them remote into my computer to check it over. The person said there were several viruses and that they needed to do a thorough scan in order to clean it up or I would continue to have trouble with their service.
(Me) Uh huh…
(Them) Everything was going great, I gave them my credit card number, they cleaned it up but something doesn’t seem right with the computer. I feel I got scammed.
No, I’m not making this up. I’ve run into this scenario multiple times. The company from which the caller claims to be with changes, but the story stays about the same. I listen, verify and then advise. Don’t feel too bad if it’s happened to you. Today, people have a million things on their mind and 500 directions to go all at once. Well, maybe I exaggerated those numbers a bit, but people do seem super busy. If tech scams aren’t your bag then you may not be familiar with how criminals are learning to apply old tricks to our new ways of life.
I take it for granted that I’m in the industry and have seen the evolution of scams, viruses, trojans, spyware, malware, phishing, redirects, hacks, and on and on. Because of this experience I trust no one, and everyone must prove their intentions before I engage or let them engage in anything. Sad, but true. In our wonderful world folks without a good moral compass guiding their actions are all over the place trying to guide you into giving them what you have.
I used to get calls from dipsticks claiming I owed them money for the toner they installed in my office copier. I don’t have an office copier. I still get a random email now and then with a subject line like “unpaid vastmicro.com invoice.” And, within the text of the email the person will write profanities in an effort to make it seem like they’re frustrated with this imaginary ongoing issue of not getting their invoice paid. They even include a fake conversation thread to make it look like they had correspondence with another employee within my company. I don’t have any employees!
It’s old news though, human beings have probably been scamming one another since the dawn of “sentientsness” if that’s even a word. If not I just created it.
Here’s the deal. If someone calls you claiming to be from Microsoft or Google or pick any large company name, don’t even talk to them. Do one of the following:
- Hang up and move on unless you know you have a particular service with that company and you are expecting a call. If you do pay for services from the business name they claim to be calling from, look up their legitimate phone number, call them direct and speak with someone about it.
- Never ever, ever, ever let anyone, you cannot verify, or who calls you out of the blue, remote into your computer. Think about it this way. When was the last time someone from your cell phone carrier stopped by the house to see if everything was okay? I’m guessing never because that’s not how things are done.
- Don’t give your credit card number or even tell them the color of the sky. That’s not how companies operate.
No one will ever call you in the context of disclosing you have viruses and need to pay them to help you. That’s a scam! An internet provider may notify you with an official email or call if a computer using your account is causing havoc. Perhaps your system is overrun with malicious programs that are using your computer to send thousands of spam emails to others on the internet. In many cases your provider will cut you off and notify you why. You can then call them directly and verify this and work to resolve the issue.
So, what are you going to do next time someone says: I’m calling because you have an issue with your computer?
Here’s an idea. Empower yourself and take over the situation by steering the ship where you want to go. Tell them you like peanut butter and jelly, dig Rick Astley, and love long walks on the beach in winter time. Then end the call. “What?”
Or, if your really bored and have nothing going on at the moment, ramble on and on about random nonsense like my cousin does. He loves screwing with phone scammers. He gets them so mad they hang up on him.
Problem solved… Next!