I had the strangest experience this week. Some unscrupulous people tried out their phone scam scheme on me. Here's what happened:
The house phone rang, but the incoming number did not show up on the caller ID. We rarely ever even use our land line, so when it rings I am (thankfully) already on my guard. No one who actually knows us uses that number.
When I answered the phone, a very business-like lady with a thick foreign accent informed me that my "computer was sending the Technical Center multiple error messages..." It would seem that my computer had some major issues, and the Tech Center was going to help me out.
First of all, when is the last time the Tech Center ever called you to tell you that your computer needed their attention? Nope. They wait for you to call them. And we aren't having any visible issues with our computers, so I wouldn't have called them. Consider this "Red Flag #1".
So I asked her what she wanted to do. She said, "Your computer is on right now, correct?" Okay. No one should know whether or not I am using my computer. "Red Flag #2". I asked her how she knew all this information about me. She said, "Your computer is sending our technical center multiple error messages, ....." Ya-da, ya-da, ya-da. We've been here already.
I asked her what company she was representing. "The Microsoft Windows Technical Center." Hmmm.....I use a Mac. "Red Flag #3". But we do have several other computers -- maybe she means one of them.
I asked again, "What exactly is it that you want to do?" At this point, she is starting to get a little irritated with my questions. The brainless masses are just supposed to obey, I guess. She said, "Ma'am, I've already told you, your computer is sending multiple error messages to our technical center....blah, blah, blah." Of course, this still doesn't tell me what she wants to do. She did manage to add a little more completely irrelevant information this time though. She informed me that there was a computer virus infecting computers all over my area and that my computer was getting worse "day by day". She still wouldn't tell me what she wanted to do. Any legitimate tech person would have at least launched into an unintelligible monologue about their methods of fixing my hard drive. Not her, though. But have no fear, they were going to fix my (non-existant) problem. All I needed to do was trust them. Just go to my computer and type whatever she tells me to. Just trust them and let them remotely control my computer system. Right. "Red Flag #4."
By this time, I had enough of this truly fun game. I said, "You call my home and expect me to believe you on blind trust and just go and let you into my computer? That sounds really shady."
She immediately disconnected the phone line.
Thankfully, it was a failed phone scam attempt.
I wondered if anyone else had got this call, so I googled "received phone call about computer virus." The information abounded. Apparently this scam has been going around for a good decade or so. They use fear tactics to reel you in. Once they get into your computer, they take you through all kinds of legitimate files that look like they could be a problem. These folks know what they are doing. They assume you do not. They proceed to convince you that your computer is infected with a virus and is getting worse. For a low fee of anywhere from $100-$299, they will fix everything. They take you to your paypal account or credit card and make sure the payment goes through before they drop you. Or, if you catch on to them once they are in your computer, and you refuse payment, they very quickly start deleting files and infect your computer. You gave them remote control of your computer, and now they are unstoppable. Either you pay them or they destroy your computer. They start by deleting your photos and music, then delete tons of important files and end the fun by removing your ethernet so that you no longer have internet access. Then they drop you and move on to their next victim. Bleh.
It would seem that they are randomly calling phone numbers in my area. Please, please, please, don't let them into your computer. Any tech center worth its salt will wait for you to call them if there is a problem. I just wanted you guys to know this was going around.