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Computer Scams Abound

True Story from just last week…. A friend of mine was visiting his parents and when he arrived he heard his father on the phone, and caught wind of the conversation he was having. He had just given out his credit card number to the person on the other end of the line, which in itself is not alarming, however…. In conjunction with that, my friend’s father was in front of his computer screen watching someone else control his computer.

My friend immediately rushed over and took control of the call, but it was too late. The caller had put an encrypted password on his father’s computer. If that wasn’t enough, this was a Windows 10 computer, which also makes it pretty much impossible to initiate a password reset.

The caller had taken the computer hostage and now also had complete control of the computer and all its contents, as well.

You might wonder how this could happen, when we all know about the multiple computer scams going on these days. The callers, the perpetrators, are getting cleverer all the time.

This time, someone called their house and said they were with the cable company and that they noticed that their internet was running slowly.

The caller said that he was calling as a courtesy because of the slow internet connection and that they needed to perform some routine maintenance. He asked to take control of their computer to test the cable modem and router. Permission was granted and the caller then saw what he called, “other problems on the computer that required Microsoft support.” “Please hold for a Microsoft representative to be connected”, he said. From there they took control of the computer completely, installed the encrypted password, and told them that the only way to get their computer back was to pay $169. Which my friend’s father was paying. The next call was to the credit card company to freeze the card. He’s lucky it was only $169, but I guess if the perpetrator makes the ransom too high, no one would pay it.

Again, how can this happen? For starters, most people trust someone calling their home, especially when they appear to be calling from a company that you’re familiar with. In New Mexico, well at least in Albuquerque and surrounding areas, there are essentially only two cable companies, Comcast and CenturyLink, so a scammer calling and representing themselves as being from one of these two, has a 50/50 chance of mentioning the right provider.

First rule: Don’t ever give you credit card number out to someone calling YOU, unless you know them. If you initiate the call because you’ve been watching the home shopping network and can’t resist the latest batman water goblet collection, that’s different.

But if you are promoted by a message on your COMPUTER, to call a number, even though in this case you have initiated the call, do not give out your credit card number. Some of these messages look pretty legitimate. They imitate the Microsoft logo and look like an internally generated system message. Don’t fall for it! (That is the Second Rule).

Not only that, but if you have caller ID, and you see a local area code, you can’t believe that’s true either! (This is the Third Rule). These callers can show up as being from anywhere they want to, even if they aren’t calling from this county, by utilizing services such as “Google Voice”. You may see phone number that shows up with a 505 area code on your caller ID but they could be calling from anywhere in the world.

This gentlemen, my friend’s father, is a retired Engineer and was not happy that he fell for this scam, in part because he’s an intelligent man. But, we are sometimes just too trusting.

Now, at Computer Corner we can also get into your computer to perform remote services, but you know who we are.

And even so…. No one at Computer Corner would call you out of the blue and tell you that we need access to your computer. We only do this if you have contacted us to help you, so no matter who your computer service provider is, they will probably not be calling you, unless you have contacted them first.