Three times in the past two weeks, I have had someone tell me, “I had a screen pop up saying my computer was infected with a virus and I needed to call a 1-800 number.”
All three of them called the number. Two of the three provided remote access to their computer. One gave his credit card information to pay a stranger he never met to do “work” on his computer that he didn’t understand. Each time, my facial twitch betrayed my disappointment. They responded defensively, “Well, I’m not good with computers!”
Cybercrime is occurring at rates never before witnessed.
Please, please, please don’t do this.
First, you have no idea who is on the other end of the line when you call. In most cases, it is not a company with your best interests in mind. By giving them access to your computer, they can download viruses and malware, steal your data, shut down your network, change your passwords, and engage in all sorts of other nefarious behavior.
Second, this type of scam is one of many that helps fund the cybercriminals and enemies of our nation. At the risk of repeating myself to people who have read previous blogs and articles that I have authored, cybercrime is occurring at rates never before witnessed.
It is the perfect crime, as it is most often committed by people outside the U.S. in places that the FBI can’t reach. These are not crimes being committed by a couple of teenagers in mom’s basement “for kicks.”
As a retired cop, I never want to put money in the hands of criminals. Reputable IT companies and computer repairmen do not do business like this. Take a moment to search for a local managed services provider, IT provider, or computer repair company. A few things to look for to identify reputable companies:
1.) Check out the website of their company. Is it aesthetically pleasing? Does it clearly identify what services the company offers? Is the material presented in a clear, concise manner that you can understand? Does the website identify the company as being licensed and insured?
2.) Call your local Chamber of Commerce. They will be happy to point you in the direction of one of their members that is a good-quality company.
3.) Always follow your gut instinct. If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t! End the call and move on. There are plenty of companies doing IT out there. Not all of them are shady.
These are just a few helpful hints for those without the in-depth knowledge necessary to identify a vulnerability in their network. If nothing else, those that believe they are being scammed can now begin to rectify the situation before further damage can occur.
David Thornton is a retired law enforcement officer and an OpsLens contributor. This OpsLens article is used by permission.
Last Modified: May 10, 2017, 1:08 pm