by David Gracey
The bad guys never stop trying to figure out ways of separating people from their money. The advancement of technology has given hackers the ability to steal from people around the world, not just from folks in their own community. Hiding behind firewalls and slow-moving international police investigations has emboldened them to be more aggressive in their tactics.
Recently we learned of a new scam that is on the rise. The bad guys call their potential victims on the telephone and say they are from Microsoft, alleging the victim’s home computer has been infected with a computer virus and “Microsoft” has been alerted. The “infected” computer has been sending out spam messages and, unless immediate action is taken, the computer will be shut down and everything will be wiped off.
Well, of course this is alarming to an unsuspecting victim. No one wants to have all their data deleted! But there are a few telltale signs that this is a scam:
- Microsoft never calls anyone. They are too busy counting their piles of cash.
- Microsoft isn’t in the security business; they sell software like Windows and Office.
- One computer isn’t going to create that much havoc on the Internet.
The bad guys try to convince the victim to provide credit card information or to login to a fake website in order to get personal information which will later be used to drain your checking account or run up credit card charges. So if “Microsoft” calls, have some fun with them but don’t give them a lick of information.
Here are some other scams to avoid:
- Nigerian royalty don’t need your checking account number to transfer their vast riches into the U.S. This is one of the oldest ones around but folks still fall for it.
- Your Bank will never, EVER email you asking to change your email address or confirm your mailing address or phone number. This is a fake email.
- Immediately following natural disasters, emails start showing up about relief funds for the victims. Don’t ever (EVER!) reply to those emails, regardless of how legitimate they look. If you want to give to a disaster, contact your local church or Red Cross and they will put you in touch with the proper agency.
- During the recession, a popular scam was to send an email out to unemployed people promising a job to the first 10 people who responded. These folks just want your credit card number and don’t have a job.
- Fake websites continue to amaze me. It’s very easy to duplicate a website and hide the real website under the description. For instance, someone could create a fake website and in the email change the hyperlink to appear as though it’s legitimate. They use this to request folks to “confirm” their checking account number. Hover over the hyperlink with your mouse to see the real link hidden underneath.
Beware! The bad guys continue to come up with new and “believable” scams all the time.
Network 1 Consulting is a 15-year-old, IT Support company in Atlanta, GA. We become – or augment – the IT department for professional services companies: law firms, medical practices and financial services firms. Our IT experts can fix computers – but what our clients really value are the industry-specific best practices we bring to their firms. This is especially important with technology, along with regulations and cyber threats, changing so rapidly. We take a proactive approach to helping our clients use technology to gain and keep their competitive advantage.