More than ever, the bad guys are trying to get you to part with your money.
Scenario #1 – the phone rings. Either a recorded voice or a live person with a foreign accent tells you that your computer is infected with viruses and your data and banking transactions are at risk. They claim to be with Microsoft, Windows, Apple, iCloud, Verizon, Comcast and others. They will say anything to give themselves enough credibility that you don’t hang up on them!
Scenario #2 – you’re surfing the web or fiddling on social media. Maybe you simply mistyped a web address, but you end up on a website you did not intend. Then it happens. A scary screen shows up saying you’re infected and your data and banking transaction are at risk. Sometimes it even talks to you or a siren begins blaring. It says to call the 800 number or really bad things will happen. So you call.
Scenario #3 – you’re struggling with some tech item. Maybe a printer or your wifi. So you google “tech support phone number XYZ company” and you see the number and call. The only problem is that’s not the company you were looking for and the bad guys with money advertise so heavily on Google that they appear at the top of the search results. You call and speak to the pleasant sounding bad guys.
Scenario #4 – like #3 above, you’re having a tech problem, but this time you know the right number to call. You have it printed on the manual or some other documentation. You call and speak to a tech from the right company. During the conversation, maybe it’s discovered you have some malware or other bad software installed on your computer causing you problems, so the tech gives you another number to call. A number that IS NOT for the company you called in the first place! It’s his buddy somewhere else who’s trying to get money from you.
With any of the above scenarios, the bad guys convince you to allow them to connect remotely to your computer so they can show you the problem. Many people smell a rat at this point, but others remain concerned their data may actually be at risk or that they are spreading a virus and they let the bad guys in. They point you to a website and have put in a code and click a few buttons, and voila! They are on your computer and moving your mouse around. It’s fascinating. To a point. To watch the mouse move, letters being typed and windows popping up is oddly…well, fascinating! Also, very dangerous if the one’s moving the mouse are the bad guys.
They show you some scary things that they pawn off as viruses. The fact is, every computer has scary looking stuff on it. The key here is scary “looking”. If you don’t know what you’re looking at, it can be scary for sure. At this point the bad guys convince you they can clean up the infections and make it all better. They install some programs (which are all legitimate by the way) to clean-up some junk files that all computers have. They may even install an anti-virus program and sell you on a subscription. They want your credit card info so they overcharge you for the software and their services. Sometimes as much as $1000 for “lifetime” protection. They may even tell you to go to Walgreens or CVS and get some gift cards to pay for the items. This is the second point where people smell a rat. Some will just hang up the phone. The bad guys call back and maybe you yell at them or hang up again. That’s when they put a password on your computer so you can’t get back in again. Terrible stuff. They keep calling you back and then you pack up your computer and bring it to your local computer repair shop.
We see this so often here at Two River Computer that we gave it a name; Unauthorized Access. Read more about it by clicking here. If this happens to you, just turn the computer off or close the lid if it’s a laptop. Then call your local computer repair shop for help. Don’t be too quick to cancel all your bank accounts and credit cards, but if you’re genuinely concerned ask them to put a “watch” on the accounts for suspicious activity.
Trust your instincts when it comes to this stuff. If you’re on the phone with someone and you don’t feel right about what they are asking you to do, just hang up!