2014 Scam Update

From time to time in the past we have alerted you to many computer related scams. There is a new scam we wanted to make you aware of. In addition, we want to remind you of some of the scams we have told you about in the past because they are still going on.

One of the scams we told you about in the past was how you get a phone call from someone claiming to be with Windows Support, Microsoft Support, or Apple Support. They tell you they had a notification that your computer is infected (red flag). They get you to go to a website so they can remote into your computer. They then pull something up that shows a lot of errors and tell you these errors indicate your computer is infected and they can fix it for a fee and all they need to fix it is your credit card number.

Of course, these people aren’t with the company they said they are with. They didn’t get any kind of notification that your computer is infected. They are scammers trying to scam you out of your credit card number. Now there is a new twist on this scam. Instead of cold calling you, these same scammers are trying to get you to call them.

Picture this. You have an HP printer and you are having trouble with it. You pull up google and search for HP support phone number. The number comes up, so you call it. They answer HP Customer Support and you tell them about your problem. They ask you to go to a website to so they can remote into your computer. Once on your computer, they pull something up that shows a lot of errors. They show you all of these “errors” and tell you that the problem is that your computer is infected and, for a fee, they can clean it up and fix the problem with your printer. Sound familiar?

It’s the same scam as the first one we told you about, except in this case the scam is that the scammers are working hard to put their phone number on the search engines so that it shows up when you do an online search for a phone number for a company that is computer related. So when you search for HP Customer Support or Dell Support, or anything like that, the number you get may not really be for the company you were looking for. It’s for the scammer.

To avoid this, instead of searching for a company’s phone number, go to the company’s website and find the number there. If you don’t know the company’s website, you can find it on a search engine, but look carefully at the results you get and make sure you are going to the company’s real website and not a fake one. One of the company’s doing this is called iYogi. Do a search for Dell Support, you get iYogi’s phone number first. Search for HP Support and you get the same thing. Try it for Quickbooks support, and you get the same thing. One way to avoid this is to install Web Of Trust (www.mywot.com) into your browser. It puts little colored circles next to each website in your search results. Green means safe, Yellow means caution, Red means danger. iYogi has a red circle next to it. And for good reason.

Now that we have told you about the most recent scam making the rounds, here’s a reminder on some older ones that are still wreaking havoc on people’s computers.

  • Watch out for Facebook links.
    Someone on your friends list post a link on facebook. The comment may be vague or it may say something about how someone posted a picture of you and click on the link to see it. Don’t click on these types of links. They will take you to an infected website that will try to infect your computer. Just because a link is posed by a friend of yours, doesn’t mean its safe. Your friend’s computer could be infected and the infection could be posting those links. The same goes for email messages that appear to be from Facebook. If they have a link in them, don’t click on them.
  • If you get an email from someone you know and the email just has a link in it and not much else, don’t click on the link. The person you got that from didn’t really send it. Their email has been hacked.
  • You get an e-mail that predicts the result of a sports event like a football game. The next day, the prediction comes true. Over the next few weeks, you get similar e-mails correctly predicting the outcome of other football games. You then get an e-mail saying that you can purchase future predictions saying you can use the information to gamble and win a lot of money.
  • What has happened is statistics. These crooks send out e-mails to a large number of people with different results. Statistically, one of the e-mails will be right. Because of the massive amount of e-mails they send out, it still ends up being a good number of people who get the e-mails with the correct “predictions” in them. So they really aren’t accurately predicting the results. Don’t answer, reply to, or send money in response to any e-mail and unless you are absolutely sure that e-mail is from someone you know and trust, or from a company you know and trust.
  • Emails, phone calls, or letters offering assistance through hard economic times. The assistance comes in the form of mortgage foreclosure rescue, loans, debt consolidation loans, assistance with repossession, and offers to fix your credit rating. Although there are legitimate companies who offer these types of services, most of these services are scams.
  • You get a call from someone claiming an emergency involving one of your friends or family members and that they need money to cover medical costs or something like that. If someone you don’t know calls asking for money on behalf of your friend or family member, verify before you do anything. Insist on talking to the person they are calling for or call other relatives to verify the story.
  • Those of you with businesses should watch out for people paying with cashier’s checks. There are a lot of forged cashier’s checks. They can not only get away with merchandise, but they will often have the cashier’s check for over the amount and ask for change. So you are not only out the cost of the merchandise, but the change you made.
  • You might purchase a service or product online thinking it was a one-time payment but it ends up being charged each month. Or you sign up for a trial period for something and give a credit card “for verification only” but they keep charging you every month even though you cancelled before the free trial was up. Basically, don’t give your credit card to any vendor without checking them out first.
  • You may get a phone call from someone saying there has been a security risk on your account. Usually a bank or credit card account. The caller then conferences in your real bank whose representative ask you for sensitive information like PIN number, account number, etc. The bank then tells you everything is fine. What you didn’t know was that the person who originally called you stayed on the phone and wrote down all of that information you gave your bank. Now the scammer has that information. If you get a call from a financial institution, the only way to really be sure it’s them is to hang up and then call your bank using a known correct phone number. Or go to their website and check your accounts to make sure everything is OK.
  • Don’t open an email attachment unless you are absolutely certain it’s safe. If the name of the attachment ends in .exe, .bat, .reg, or .com, don’t open it. If it ends in .zip, it might be OK, but could be an infection. In that case, you will have to look at the contents of the .zip file to see what’s in it and make sure it doesn’t have any files like we described above.
  • Watch out for email messages from financial institutions. There are a lot of fake ones out there. They tell you something about your account and give you a link to fix it. If you click on the link, it goes to a website that looks like the financial institution’s website, but it’s not. When you enter your login information, you are giving it to the scammer who can now login to your account and take your money. When you get an email like this, don’t click on the link in the email. Just manually go to your bank’s website to check out your account.

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