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Avoiding Computer Scams in 2019
January 22, 2019
We saw a lot of scams and fraud last year. Please protect yourself.
Tech support fraud
Tech support fraud includes things like phone calls claiming your computer is infected with a virus, or you’ll receive a pop-up message or locked screen prompting you to call a fake company.
Today, phishing attacks look more like they came from a specific company. Called “spearfishing,” hackers might pose as your bank, credit card company, or a site like Google, PayPal or Dropbox. Generally, targets receive an email that looks as if it came from a legitimate business. You might be prompted to click on a link to “verify account details” Or “Reset Password” and from there, fileless malware is installed on your device.
Where you once had to download a file or an app to get malware, it’s now a matter of clicking a link. These fileless attacks are also more difficult to detect, as most antivirus programs only scan your hard drive.
What to Do
• Never click a link in an email that comes from your bank, government agency, or commercial institution. If the link comes from a company, check your account by going directly to the website by typing the URL manually.
• Check at least once a week for updates for your computer’s security software, and run scans several times a week.
• Do hang up if you get an unsolicited call from someone who claims to be a tech support provider for your computer or software.
• Do read any warning message on your computer carefully. Bad grammar or misspelled words are telltale signs of a false warning.
• Do get rid of a fake virus alert message by shutting down your browser. You can do this on a Windows PC by pressing Control-Alt-Delete and bringing up the Task Manager. On a Mac, press the Option, Command, and Esc (Escape) keys, or use the Force Quit command from the Apple menu.
• Do contact your credit card company and request a reversal of the payment if you’ve been scammed. You’ll also want to look for other unauthorized charges and ask for those to be reversed as well.
What not to do:
• Don’t ever allow someone who calls you out of the blue to access your computer remotely.
• Don’t rely on caller ID to determine if a caller is on the level. Scammers can make it appear as if they’re calling from a legitimate number.
• Don’t give your computer username or any account passwords to someone over the phone.
• Don’t provide financial information to someone who calls a few days, weeks or months after you’ve made a tech support purchase and asks if you were satisfied — it’s probably a “refund scam.” If you say “No,” the caller will ask for bank or credit card information, ostensibly to deposit a refund in your account but actually to steal from you.
If you have ever let a person that you are not familiar with access to your computer you should probably have it checked out by us. You could be very vulnerable to stolen passwords and bank hacks.