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  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 13, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , remote access, , tech support scam   

    Man loses life savings in antivirus scam 

    Man loses life savings in antivirus scam

    By Greg Collier

    You hate to see the phrases ‘scam’ and ‘life savings’ used in the same sentence. Unfortunately, that is a harsh reality in today’s internet-connected world. Scammers and con artists will try to take as much money from you in the quickest way possible. One of the quickest ways to do this is to gain remote access to someone’s computer. In most cases, in order to gain remote access to someone’s computer, the computer’s owner needs to give that person permission. That’s where today’s scam comes in.

    A man from the Chicago-area lost his life savings to scammers after he allowed them to gain access to his computer. The man used a certain brand of antivirus software that he pays a subscription fee for. The scammers called him up posing as the antivirus software company. They told the man that due to the pandemic they can no longer serve him and would like to give him a $500 refund. The scammers deposited thousands of dollars into the man’s bank account and then said that this was a mistake. In order to correct the mistake, they needed remote access to the man’s computer. That’s when the scammers were able to empty his bank account and his home equity line of credit to the tune of $200,000.

    No commercial software company is going to call you up offering you a refund. Even if there was some kind of billing discrepancy, the software company would more than likely reach out by email. Even then, we wouldn’t recommend clicking on any links in the email. Also, it should almost go without saying that you should never allow someone you don’t know to have remote access to any of your devices. If you do, they can access just about any online account that you’ve used on that computer. Lastly, you don’t really need to pay for antivirus software anymore. While you may have had to back in the Windows XP days, Windows 10 has a built-in security feature known as Windows Security that is just as good as any paid software.

  • Geebo 8:01 am on April 1, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Hulu, , Roku, , , tech support scam   

    Streaming devices are vulnerable to scam 

    Streaming devices are vulnerable to scam

    By Greg Collier

    In case you’re not familiar with Roku TV, it’s a device or service that comes with your TV that allows you to access multiple streaming services like Netflix, Hulu and the like. There are other brands of streaming devices, but Roku is the most popular one with consumers. And like most internet-connected devices, they are vulnerable to attacks and scams. Recently, there seems to be a string of attacks happening to new device owners that is costing them a lot of money. It’s known as the activation scam.

    One victim who spoke to the media said she was setting up her Roku device when a message flashed on her TV screen. It told her to call a customer service number to help with the activation. The woman called the number and the person who was supposedly helping her with the activation sold her a year’s service plan for close to $200. A short time later, the customer service agent called back demanding more money or her service would be shut off. It was at this point the victim realized she had been scammed.

    If you buy a Roku or any other streaming device, there is no monthly fees to use these devices. Instead, you pay to whatever streaming service you want to subscribe to. Roku does not offer a service plan. You can elect to buy a program like that at the point of purchase like Walmart or Best Buy.

    So, how does a scam like this happen on a streaming box? From everything we’ve researched it happens when the user goes to a phony activation website. Anybody can make a website that says ‘Roku Activation Help’. That’s when the phony customer service or activation number comes up. In the user guide to most streaming boxes it will give you the authentic website to use for help and activation. If you just do a web search for activation you could be led to a scam site that could cost you time and money.

  • Geebo 9:19 am on March 11, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , icloud, , , tech support scam   

    Victim loses $15,000 in iCloud scam 

    By Greg Collier

    iCloud is Apple’s cloud storage service that it supplies to its users for free up to 5 GB of storage. If you’re not an Apple or iOS user, iCloud is akin to Google Drive, Microsoft’s One Drive, or Dropbox. A few years ago, iCloud made the headlines when a number of celebrities had the contents of their iCloud accounts leaked to the internet. So, in theory, iCloud accounts can be hacked. Scammers know this and use this fear as a way to trick their victims who may not be that technically savvy as one woman in Missouri recently discovered.

    The 86-year-old woman was expecting an important call from her daughter when she answered her phone. The person on the other line claimed that the woman’s iCloud account had been hacked along with 42 other iCloud users. The scammer then told the woman that she would need to buy gift cards in order to protect her data. Since the woman used iCloud frequently she complied. She ended up buying 29 $500 gift cards for Walmart. When store clerks asked her what all the gift cards were for, she was instructed by the scammers to tell the clerks that the cards were for her grandchildren. The scammers told her that she would be reimbursed, but instead she was out $14,500.

    Tech support scams and their variants have been around since the dawn of the internet and continue to find victims. However, these scams are easy to thwart. All you need to keep in mind is that none of the big tech companies are ever going to call you out of the blue. That includes Apple, Microsoft, Google, Facebook, and the like. The best way to keep your personal storage accounts safe is to use a password that is difficult to guess. Password managers are a great tool to assist you with this. It also helps if you don’t use the same password for multiple accounts. Again, this is where a password manager comes in handy.

    However, if someone calls you out of the blue to tell you that your account has been hacked or your computer has a virus, hang up on them. The tech companies will never call you and no one can remotely tell if you have a virus on your computer.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on February 1, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , tech support scam   

    Tech support scam leads to home security breach 

    Tech support scam leads to home security breach

    A woman from Tennessee not only lost thousands of dollars to a tech support scam, but she also had her privacy violated by a group of scammers.

    It started when she received an email from what she thought was her antivirus provider. The email claimed that they would be automatically charging her $299 for a year’s service. The woman called the customer service number included in the email and the person on the other line said they would refund her money. She was then instructed to download an app to her computer that would aid in her receiving her refund.

    The program she downloaded was actually a remote access program. This gave the scammers control of her computer. The woman input the amount of $300 for the refund, but the scammers added two more zeros to the amount making the phony refund look like the woman would be receiving $30,000.

    The scammers convinced the woman that they just paid her $30,000 to her bank account and that she needs to return it. She was told that the only way the money could be paid back was through wire transfer. The scammers even printed out documentation she would need for her bank on her own printer since they had control of her computer. They even had the woman leave her computer on all night while they did scans claiming they had to make sure the money went through.

    In the morning the woman’s bank account was down $50,000. When she called the scammers back still thinking they were customer service, they told her that the transfer didn’t go through, and they needed $10,000 in gift cards instead.

    Then the woman noticed that the light on her computer’s webcam was lit without her turning it on. This indicated that she was being watched by the scammers. She covered up the cam but her home security cameras were also connected to her computer, so she disconnected those cameras as well.

    Before all was said and done, the woman was out $37,000 to the scammers and her privacy had been essentially violated.

    The first way a scam like this can be avoided is to not use an antivirus software. While that may seem risky, Windows 10 has a pretty robust antivirus solution built into it, and it’s free. Secondly, if you receive an email like this, and you think there may actually be a problem with your account, don’t use the phone number in the email. Instead, go directly to the company’s website and look for a phone number there. Lastly, no legitimate company is going to ask for money through wire transfer or gift cards. Scammers do this because the money is virtually untraceable once they receive it that way.

  • Geebo 8:03 am on October 14, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , tech support scam   

    The tech support scam can strike more than once 

    The tech support scam can strike more than once

    The tech support scam usually finds its victims in one of two ways. Sometimes you’ll see a pop-up appear on your device telling you that you have some kind of virus and should call a phone number that appears on the pop-up. The other way is that you’ll receive a phone call from someone claiming to be from a large tech company like Microsoft or Apple telling you that you have a virus on your device. Both forms of the scam have the same purpose. These phony tech support agents want you to pay them to remove a virus that doesn’t exist. If you end up falling for the scam once, there’s a good chance that you could be targeted for subsequent scams.

    For example, the AARP is warning seniors that the phony tech support company will try to get you to sign up for a subscription service that will supposedly keep your device safe from viruses in the future. In reality, the company is just collecting a monthly payment from you for doing nothing.

    Later on, the scammers could call back to offer you a refund for their service. The scammers will ask for your bank account information to supposedly deposit the refund but instead will steal from your account.

    If you receive one of those pop-ups on your device and you can’t close any of the windows the pop-ups appear on, turn your device off by holding down the power button until it turns off completely. Once rebooted, check your device for malware. CNet has a helpful article on how to do that on Android devices. On Windows and iOS devices, it’s recommended to run a trusted malware scan program like Malwarebytes to see if your device is infected. Malwarebytes should remove the malware as well.

    If you receive one of these phone calls, hang up immediately. While companies like Microsoft and Google may know a lot about us, they don’t have the capabilities to know when you have a virus on your computer. That goes double for any company claiming to be a tech support company that you’ve never heard of.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on September 8, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: geek squad, , , tech support scam   

    Widow taken for $30,000 in scam 

    Widow taken for $30,000 in scam

    If you’ve ever lost an immediate family member you know how difficult the days following can be especially if the family member was a spouse. In the days following, you could start receiving phone calls from all sorts of services who are just looking to see if the service should be maintained after the decedent’s passing. So a woman from Michigan who was recently widowed didn’t find it unusual to receive an email from Geek Squad letting her know that the subscription was about to be renewed for the annual fee of $300.

    The widow called the number included in the email and stated that she wanted the subscription canceled. The man on the other end of the phone said he would be happy to issue a refund. Later in the call, the man said that he accidentally refunded the widow $30,000 instead of $300. He then asked the widow to wire the $30,000 so his boss wouldn’t find out and he wouldn’t lose his job. The widow had recently lost her own job and didn’t want to see anyone else lose there’s so she wired the money. Sadly, this was all a scam and there was no Geek Squad employee. So now this unemployed widow was out of most of her savings. There’s been a GoFundMe set up to help recoup at least some of her losses if you’re so generously inclined.

    Scams like this try to take advantage of their victims not knowing how payment systems work. If this was a legitimate transaction, the company in question would have been able to correct the refund electronically. These mishaps happen in corporate America all the time and safeguards are in place to correct mistakes like this almost instantly.

    Also, another tip off that this was a scam was when the fake Geek Squad employee asked for the money to be wired. This is an old scammer trick as once the money has been collected from where it was wired to, the scammers can virtually disappear into thin air.

    Grief can weigh heavy on anyone’s mind after the loss of a loved one. It can cause anyone to not think straight when dealing with what appear to be mundane transactions.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on July 15, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , tech support scam   

    Can you get your money back after a gift card scam? 

    Can you get your money back after a gift card scam?

    If you’re one of our regular readers, there’s a good chance that you’re tired of hearing about gift cards. That’s understandable, we talk about them a lot However, there is a very good reason why we talk about them all the time. If there’s a new scam going around or an old one showing a resurgence, there’s a good chance that gift cards are somehow involved.

    If you’re a new reader, the reason that scammers covet gift cards is that they’re an easy way to get virtually untraceable money from their victims. If someone is trying to pressure you into making any kind of payment through gift cards, it’s almost guaranteed to be a scam.

    For example, a couple in Arizona recently paid $13,000 in gift cards to a scammer who claimed to be from Apple and told the couple that their Apple accounts had been compromised. All they needed to do was buy $13,000 in Apple gift cards and give the gift card numbers to the phony Apple representative to get their accounts restored. They were told they would be reimbursed but they never were. The couple called Apple directly who informed them that they had been scammed.

    Unfortunately, it was too late for this couple but there is a way to prevent your money from being taken if you act quick enough. As we noted in a previous post, gift card scammers employ people they call runners. Once the scammers have the gift card numbers the runners go to various outlets to try to get the money off of the gift cards. In theory, there’s a brief window between the time you give the scammers the card numbers and the time the runners cash out the cards.

    If you realize you have just been scammed, you should immediately call the customer service number on the back of the gift cards. Remember, you still have the physical cards and the customer service representative should be able to help freeze those numbers if you get to them in time.

    Just remember that gift cards are the currency of thieves and scammers. No legitimate business or agency will ever ask you to make payment through gift cards.

  • Geebo 8:09 am on June 23, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , tech support scam   

    The real-world effects of the tech support scam 

    The real-world effects of the tech support scam

    The tech support scam can take many forms. One of the more common versions of the scam is when your device will show a warning similar to the one above. It will say that your device has been infected by a virus and you’ll be directed to a phone number to call to have the virus removed. Another common version of the scam is when the scammers call random people up posing as a big tech company like Microsoft, Google, or Facebook and will tell the person they call that their computer has been infected with a virus.

    Both scams will have you grant remote access to your computer or device to remove the virus. In reality, your device does not have a virus and the scammers will not only charge you for a phony virus solution but they could also plant any type of malware on your device.

    This unfortunately happened recently to a man in Wisconsin. The scammers posed as a well-known virus protection company, called told the man he had a virus on his computer. The scammers requested remote access to his computer and $900 in gift cards to ‘fix’ the problem.

    The man made the payment but after doing so he noticed that his bank account had an additional $300 taken out of it. This was done through malware that the scammers had left on his computer while they had remote access.

    If you’re a frequent reader of our blog, you’ll know that anyone asking for payment in gift cards is a giant red flag indicating a scam. No legitimate company or agency will ask for remote payments through gift cards. Due to the fact the cards are virtually untraceable once their serial numbers are given out, they’ve become the de facto currency for scammers. Secondly, no company will ever call or contact you to tell you that you have a virus on your device or computer.

    If you receive one of these calls, you should hang up immediately. If you see a pop up like the one pictured above, close the window and run a malware scan on your device. For Windows PCs and laptops we recommend either using the Windows Security Scan built into Windows 10 or using a commercial malware detection tool like Malwarebytes. There is a free version of Malwarebytes that is available for download.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on March 17, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , tech support scam,   

    Tech support scams could be on the rise 

    Tech support scams could be on the rise

    Yesterday, when we discussed phishing scams that could affect people working at home for the first time, we were remiss not to mention another scam that could be targeting new remote workers. The scam we’re referring to now is the tech support scam. This scam has been a known nuisance to home computer users for years now. This scam has also ended up costing its victims thousands of dollars apiece.

    The tech support scam usually works in one of two ways. The first and most ubiquitous way is when the victim sees a pop-up on their device that tells them their device has been infected with some kind of virus or malware. The pop-up then instructs the victim to call a number that claims to be some form of official tech support for that device. Other tech support scammers will just cold call people posing as a company like Microsoft or Apple telling their victims that they have a computer virus.

    In some cases, the tech support scammers will ask for remote access to your computer. With that access, they can do a number of malicious things. For example, a man in New York State was locked out of his computer by the scammers and was told to overnight cash while thinking he was paying to have his computer repaired remotely. In other cases, the scammers could inject malware into your system that logs your usernames and passwords. And in even more cases, scammers will just rummage through your computer looking for any information that they could find valuable.

    As far as the pop-ups go that say you have a virus, you should always ignore them and close the window where they appear. You should only be concerned by warnings that are given to you by whatever antivirus protection you already have installed on your device. As far as phone calls go, companies like Microsoft, Apple or Google will never call you to notify you that you have a virus. While these companies do have a global reach, they’re not monitoring your computer for viruses. If you receive one of these phone calls, just hang up. Don’t even engage with these scammers as your number could be shared with other scammers if they know someone will answer.

    Anytime some stranger is asking you online for money to fix your ‘virus’ problem, it’s more than likely a scam.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on February 24, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: impostor scam, , , tech support scam,   

    Help protect seniors from scams 

    Help protect seniors from scams

    Today, we’re focusing on a number of scams that have targeted seniors recently.

    The first is what’s known as the tech support scam. In these cases, scammers will pose as tech companies telling seniors that they have viruses on their computers. Usually, the scammers will ask for remote access to your computer. They’ll then install malware on the computer and ask for your financial information as their payment. In a recent case in Florida, two suspects were allegedly pulling this scam and having their victims send thousands of dollars to the scammers under the guise of getting rid of a virus on the victim’s computer. They were able to scam $81,000 out of several seniors from across the country before they were caught. If anyone calls you to tell you that you have a virus, it’s always a scam.

    Not all scams against seniors are done over the phone or online. Many scammers are still posing as utility workers. Recently, in San Antonio, Texas a man posed as an AT&T employee. The man went to a senior woman’s home and offered her a deal for TV, internet, and cell service. The woman wrote out a check before finding out that the man did not work for AT&T. The man in question was even wearing an AT&T employee’s shirt. If you ever have any doubts about a utility worker approaching your home always ask to see their worker’s ID. If you’re still unsatisfied you can also call the company’s local office to verify their identity.

    Lastly, both the Federal Trade Commission and the AARP say that the most common scam perpetrated against seniors is the impostor scam. This is when scammers pose as a government agency such as the IRS or Social Security. The scammers will call you on the phone and try to pressure you into making some kind of payment over the phone, often through unusual means like gift cards or wiring the money. Both the FTC and the AARP are expecting scammers to take advantage of the 2020 census as well which we discussed here. If you did owe a government agency money or there was an issue with your Social Security benefits you would receive a letter and not a phone call.

    While you may not be vulnerable to these scams if you know someone who might be please share this post with them.

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