The year is 1995...
The George Foreman Lean Mean Grilling Machine hits markets across the world, Seal's "Kiss From A Rose" reaches #1 on the Billboard charts, and major commercial Internet Service Providers such as AOL, Prodigy, and CompuServe, ignite a virtual fire by providing their customers with personal email accounts. From that moment on, criminals, crooks, and swindlers took to the world wide web under the (not so suspicious) guise of long lost relatives, Bill Gates, and yes, even Nigerian royalty, to carry out their nefarious deeds through the advent of electronic mail. Unfortunately, these scams, some of which have been around as early as 1997, are still very active and claiming victims today. That being said, not all online thieves are comfortable with remaining complacent and thus new and more difficult to detect scams arise.
WHEN A STRANGER CALLS
In the last year, we've noticed a significant increase in the amount of people that have sought our help after falling victim to a new and particularly deceptive threat. The culprit: a team of well-scripted individuals claiming to be authorized computer technicians in order to gain remote access to your personal computer. Often times a red or blue screen will appear in your browser with a message that your computer has been infected, prompting you to call their "Tech Support" phone number in order to remove said viruses. Other times, you may receive a direct phone call from "Microsoft" or a "PC Support" technician with instructions on how they can help rid your device of viruses or malware. Unfortunately, these scams, in particular, are geared to take advantage of computer users who may only use their device for browsing the internet and have a less than a thorough knowledge of how their machine works.
They use programs such as TeamViewer and GoToAssist to remotely access your device, giving them open access to documents, passwords, and other sensitive information. Towards the end of the call, you'll be directed to the PayPal website, where you'll be asked to provide either your bank account or credit card information in order to receive further antivirus support and before you realize what's happened, they've ended the call and successfully stolen your identity.
IT'S A TRAP!
Whether you receive a notification or a call from a representative claiming to be authorized tech support, it's important that you don't let it go any further. Rest assured that Microsoft will likely never call you at home to remotely access your personal computer, nor would any other support or technical service, without your prior authorization.
Steps to follow
- If you've received one of these suspicious phone calls - hang up!
- If you've had a "Your computer is infected" window pop up - it's likely that your computer is infected, and is what has caused them, but you should NEVER call the number given on the pop up screen. ALWAYS call a trusted technician in your area.
- Finally, and most importantly, file a complaint with the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center, because helping stop these criminals may help protect your friends and family.
Internet Fraud is a serious issue and affects millions every year in its various forms. A handy resource to utilize is the Common Fraud Schemes page from the FBI's website. Keep your friends and family informed by sharing this blog