The Scam among us

By Robert Crowe

This is a short but important article for those who have a computer. The end message is: no one can see what’s on your computer unless you give them permission to do so.

There has been a rash of scam contacts in our area. A common swindle is a telephone call where the caller says he is with Microsoft and they have detected problems on your computer. There are two immediate flags that should be waving here. 1.) Microsoft is not going to call you. If you don’t believe that just try to call them to get some assistance. 2.) No one … I repeat no one … can see what’s on your computer … not even the phantom helpers at Microsoft.

Yes, the caller will sound persuasive. They may send you to one of their websites that has a list of computer problems. They tell you that this is a list of your computer issues. The next steps are varied. The bad guys may have you click on a download file to “fix” the problems. Of course, this download is what infects the computer. And now … you really do have a problem. For a few hundred dollars, they will correct the issue. They will ask for a credit card number for payment. If you give them your credit card number you have just created more difficulty for yourself.

Another approach is that the caller will ask to take remote control of your machine. If you give permission, they will alter your files so you will not be able to use your computer unless you pay them.

There are variations of the extortion game. They may say they are with your Internet Company, the FBI, the police, the Telephone Company or similar stories. That’s the first lie. The next falsehood is that problems have been spotted on your computer.

Unless you give them permission, no one can see what’s on your computer.

The on-line version of this scam is a message on your computer says that problems have been spotted and asking you to “click here” or “call this number” to fix the issues. Same result: problems for you.

A friend in the computer business, who is well aware of this scam, received such a call. The caller said, “I’m from Microsoft Tech Support and we have found a number of problems on your computer and they need to be corrected.”

“Is it bad?” asked my friend.

“Oh, yes. Very bad.”

“Let me ask you a question. How do you know what’s on my computer, when I have no Internet connection?”

The caller quickly disconnected.

You do the same if you receive a call from them. Don’t worry about being rude. These are criminals who are out to do harm and take your money.

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