The Smoke and Mirrors of Scammers
Don’t fall for these common internet scams
by David Shinn
There are thousands upon thousands of virus and malware attacks daily. As long as there are human beings to take advantage of, scammers will attempt to trick you into giving them your personal and credit information. Always be suspicious! Never allow anyone to remote connect to your computer unless you know them.
Here are the top four current issues.
1) General incoming calls and emails
If a person calls you and identifies themselves as being with the Internal Revenue Service, Microsoft, Hewlett Packard or they want to improve your website ranking in Google--- they are scammers. Give them no information and click the red disconnect button on your phone.
The IRS call will notify you that back taxes are owed and that a credit card must be used for immediate payment. The IRS will NEVER call you. They will always send a letter to you via the US Postal Service for any formal communication.
There are many scam emails going around: Apple or Netflix emailing that your credit card on file has expired… Someone has shared a file for you to view on Dropbox… Email from UPS that a package will be returned if you don’t give them a delivery address. All fake emails and infected links--- delete them.
2) I got an email from someone I know wanting me to click on a link
Always look at the “from email address” (it’s probably not from the person you think it is) and hover over any link to see what the link address actually is (probably not a legitimate site). Best practice is to immediately delete the email. If you’re still concerned… call the person you think it was from and ask them if they emailed you.
3) “Warning! Your computer is infected- call this support number to resolve this issue now…
A bogus screen will appear while you are browsing the internet (it often times has sound too) saying that it is “a warning that a virus has been found on your computer. Call this toll free number for immediate help.” It is a scam. If you call them they will want remote access to your computer and to get your credit card number for needed services. Immediately restart your computer and run full antivirus and MalwareBytes scans.
Ransomware is malicious software that cyber criminals use to hold your computer or computer files for ransom, demanding payment from you (Bit Coin is the preferred currency) to get them back. Ransomware is becoming an increasingly popular way for malware authors to extort money from companies and consumers alike. There is a variety of ransomware that can get onto a person’s computer, but as always, those techniques either boil down to social engineering tactics or using software vulnerabilities to silently install software on a victim’s computer.
The best preparation to protect against Ransonware is to regularly backup your data. Note: Never leave a USB device (external hard drive or jump drive) plugged in when not actively using it to backup your data. If you are attacked, the ransomware will move out to all external connected drives…. making your backup worthless.
Be careful who you call for support
It is easy for a user to go to Google and type in, for example, “Epson printer support phone number.” Don’t be surprised that the phone number you are given is not an Epson support center, but a scam center that has indexed their number on Google under “Epson Printer Support.”
I continue to have clients get caught in this scam. The representative will ask to be remote connected to your computer. From that point you are actively getting scammed. They may tell you that you have a serious virus or that malware is loaded. They will then load tracking software, permanent remote connect software or maybe even a virus so that you DO have a problem.
Make sure you know who you are calling. If you want Epson because you have a printer issue, look in the documentation that came with your printer… there will be a support number there. This is the same for any support number needed---- utility companies (look on your statement), computer products (look in the manual)…etc.
In addition to an active anti-virus program running on your computer, I would suggest using anti-malware software too. Both the programs below have either a free or trial version for immediate use.
Click the Free Download button and install. Check for updates and then click the scan button.
Click the Free 30-Day Trial and install the program.