For the past few years, it seems most of the computer related scams aimed at getting your money have been initiated by the user responding to an email or browsing to a fraudulent web site. Now the scammers are even calling users on the phone to lure them into giving them money.
Here are a few scams you should watch out for:
Email Scams - Email scams usually come in one of three types. You get an email from a friend that you know telling you that they are stranded out of town and need you to wire money. You get an email from some foreign dignitary or his heir needing help to get their millions of dollars out of whatever country they are in. All they need is your bank account. Or you get an email from some bank, which the scammer hopes is the bank you happen to use, asking you to login to correct or verify some information. In this case, the included link actually takes you to a fake bank site and lures your actual bank login information from you or other unique information that helps them to steal your identity.
Just remember this. If your friend is stranded out of town, they are probably going to phone you. No foreign dignitaries will ever want to share their millions with a stranger on the internet. If ever you are asked to login to your bank web site, do NOT click the link in the email. Simply open a web browser and go to your bank site the old fashioned way. This will avoid you being misdirected to a fraudulent web site.
Computer Virus Scams - These scams are often called Scare Ware, Hijack Ware or Ransom Ware because they hold your computer, files and internet access hostage until you pay them. You inadvertantly download a bad file or go to a bad web site and the next thing you know, you have messages popping up on your screen. The messages may say that your files have been damaged, warn you of the many virus infections you have or even tell you that your hard drive is failing. Of course they offer to fix all these issues for just $79.95. All you have to do is give them your VISA card number. These messages can sometimes look very realistic like they are part of Windows, but Windows will never ask for your money to repair something.
If you see a message like this on your computer you can try a few things. First, shut down and restart. If it's still there, run a "System Restore" to an earlier time in Control Panel. NOT a manufacturer's system restore that may wipe your files. If it is still there, then run a full virus scan. Unfortunately, many of these types of malware require professional help from a company like ours.
Phone Scams - These are the latest type of computer scam. Your home phone rings and on the other end is a technician who claims to be from Microsoft. They have detected viruses on your home computer and need you to let them remote in to assess the situation. They get on your computer, install malware and viruses, then tell you they can clean it all up for a price. The innocent consumer thinks "This is Microsoft. They must be legit." and they hand over their credit card to some guy in an internet cafe on the other side of the world.
Use your common sense and intuition when you are online. If it seems like it could be a scam, it probably is. If you ever have a question about a potential computer scam or anything else computer related, feel free to call on us. If you know someone who needs help with their business or home computer systems, have them contact Preactive IT Solutions.