Have you been receiving phone calls or seeing websites that claim your computer is infected with a virus?
Clients have been asking me about these scams and some pretty tech-savvy people have been tricked. Scam artists know how to scare people and get them rattled so they won’t think clearly and will react hastily. These types of scams are not only stressful and expensive, but they cause considerable embarrassment. (Here is a video of a Today Show episode that explains how one of their team got fooled by “The Tech Support scam”.)
The good news is that you can protect yourself with these Techie Tips:
First, be aware that there are many variations on this type of scam. It’s called “Social Engineering.” These scams are designed to manipulate people. Scammers use emails, fake websites and direct phone calls and they may claim to be representing 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 or
- Delete the email or
- 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 statement and call the company directly. (If you look up a 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 can be fixed. You can take it to a repair shop for a complete checkup and removal of any viruses or spyware. (Let me know if you would like a referral.)
Don’t try to fix it yourself. 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. A professional will have all the right tools.
The scammers may not have installed a virus but 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 whenever they want. They may have only wanted 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 avoids this complication.)
An even simpler solution to all of this is to use a Chromebook computer and Gmail.
Gmail is very, very effective at sending scam emails to the Spam folder and Chromebooks will not allow scammers access to install spyware. Some Chromebooks cost less than the price of a virus repair on a PC or Mac and you won’t have to pay annual fees for antivirus protection and backups. Chromebooks don’t get viruses and everything is 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, delete scam emails, close fake web pages, hang up on scam phone callers and enjoy a peaceful techie life!
Please share this with your friends and encourage them to sign up for Techie Tips below so they can be safe and fully enjoy technology like you.