I have a fair grasp of how to use a computer, how to order things on the internet, and have been taught well to watch out for scammers! Well, in a weak moment I made a bad decision and want to share it to help others not make the same mistake.
I ordered an updated second, electronic reading device and received it soon after. I noticed that the volume when turned all the way up, was only equal to medium volume on my old device. So I dutifully called the number that was posted as the big company’s customer service line.
A man with an accent answered the phone with “Company name,USA.com.” I figured Big Company had branches in other countries, so each country would indentify itself. So I proceeded to tell him my story. He politely asked permission to access my computer to see what the problem was. I told him that the problem is not my computer but my reading device.
His reply was that the server may be “contaminated” and he would need to check it. I replied that my other reader was fine and was on the same WiFi. He answered that they may be on different servers. A wisp of suspicion arose in my mind. But this was Big Company’s phone number, or so I thought!! They are honest and reliable. Besides I had a very good anti-virus protection from a very reputable company. Of course he told me, “But nothing can protect you from everything.”
So I agreed and allowed him access to my computer. For a few minutes he was on my computer and wrote little notes about what he saw. He told me the server was indeed “contaminated with malware.” But the degree of contamination was so bad that he could not help me. He recommended another company with “Level 6” agents who could help me. There would be a fee of over $150 or something. If I wanted continued protection, I could pay $200 annually.
Well, I decided right then that I would check with my IT son or a friend first and would call them back. They gave me their number. Both friend and IT son told me to disconnect the tower from my WiFi and turn off the computer until it could be checked. They also told me it would need to be cleaned or possibly “wiped” in case there was a virus or some malware downloaded by this scammer.
My son confirmed what the friend told me. So I took my computer to the big store where I bought it. Thankfully I had a warranty of sorts that gave me a free fix. The agent told me there was indeed a download from the scammer, that would have allowed them access to my computer later.
My computer did not need to be totally wiped. But they were able to clean out the scammer’s downloads!! Then my jaw dropped when the young man told me that at least three or four people a day bring their computers with the same kinds of scams and downloads! Well at least I was in good company.
He confirmed my suspicions. Have you ever looked up a site, and while the site was being connected, an advertisement or “Congratulations, you can win blah blah if you fill out this survey” appears? When you see that, if you look at the tab that shows the site you are looking for, you will see a different site pop up over the requested site search tab. I have seen this on other pages too. These pop-ups, advertisements, contests, and even fake numbers to real companies are scams. Don’t look at them, just close the window and know that you don’t get something, except a scam, for nothing.
There are some pretty shifty, wicked people out there who will take advantage of even a weak moment. So what do you do to protect yourself? I am no expert and I don’t know all the tricks. If you know more than these please chime in with your knowledge or experience.
1. Search on Google or whatever you use for a phone number to verify that the number is for the company it says it is.
2. Check the tab at the top to see the address of where the number is coming from.
3. If you are scammed press the key that disconnects you from the internet. (Looks like a little antenna with waves coming out from its sides.) Turn off your computer until you can get it checked by a reputable computer repairman.
4. Trust your gut feelings. If someone is telling you something that doesn’t make sense, even though they have a practiced nonsensical answer, tell them you will call them back, if they will give you their number. This way if you choose to report them you have the number verified and can turn it over for investigation.
Stay “frosty” out there and don’t trust everyone. Ask questions, do your homework about what to expect. You can look up anything on the internet these days. Feel free to comment about your experiences.