Don’t believe it when you get a phone call from somebody claiming your computer has been hacked.
Don’t believe it when the caller says he or she is from Microsoft or Dell, or from software security company McAfee or Norton, telling you they can remove the infection by remote control.
It’s a fraud, and if you do believe it, the scammers will take over your computer and blackmail you to pay up or have your hard drive deleted. And they are likely to infect your computer with real malware, opening you to identity theft.
Even though the Federal Trade Commission has shut down these tech support scammers as far back as 2012, they are cropping up again, perhaps because of all the recent hacking scandal headlines. The scammers probably think that if big guys like Target can be hacked, you could be convinced that so have you.
I’ve gotten three such phone calls in recent weeks, each one from a caller with a thick Indian or Bangladeshi accent, claiming to be named John or Jane or something similar and claiming to be from the Microsoft IT department.
Each caller told me he “noticed” that my computer was infected, and “offered” to fix it.
Luckily, I recognized them immediately as scammers, since I use an iMac, not a Microsoft device. You might not be so lucky.
On the most recent call I received, I shouted, “how can you sleep at night, you (expletive deleted) fraud?,” before hanging up.
Since the call showed on my caller ID as “private caller,” I couldn’t trace the number to report the scammer to the FTC. But even when a callback number shows, it’s likely to lead to a non-working number, which is why the FTC has so much trouble shutting down these scammers.
There are reports of people losing their data – or being charged hundreds or even thousands of dollars – to these creeps and crooks.
Bottom line: Microsoft and Apple never phone you to ask for money. If you get a call from somebody claiming to be from Microsoft or Apple, know with certainty that the caller is a scammer. Hang up.
Another fraud and scam to watch out for is the caller who tells you that you’ve just won a free Bahamas vacation.
Actually, I’m considering buying a loud whistle to keep by the phone to blast the next computer hacking scammer who calls me. Let their ears ring and head hurt from my outrage of their scam.